Riasc Monastic Settlement, Ireland

The Riasc Monastic Settlement or Reask Monastic Site (Mainistir Riaisc) on the Dingle Peninsula is home to the impressive ruins of a 6th-century monastery and important carved stone. The site is off the beaten track with a sign that's easy to miss, but perseverence is rewarded with an interesting and atmospheric site you can wander in peace.

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History of Riasc Monastic Settlement

The history of the Reask Monastic Site is not well known, but it has been fairly securely dated to the 5th or 6th century (leaning towards the latter).

Excavations have revealed the foundations of an oratory that was first built with wood and later with stone, monastic huts, a kiln for drying corn, and a cemetery. Shards of Roman amphorae (jugs), which were used in the 6th century to transport wine, were also found.

What to See at Riasc Monastic Settlement

The Riasc site is highly atmospheric in its stillness and proximity to the sea. It consists of a stone-walled, grassy area alongside a narrow lane, not far from the turnoff to the Gallarus Oratory. There is a small area for parking along the lane.

The enclosing stone wall is round, as are the foundations of six clochans, or monastic huts. When whole, these looked like the beehive huts that can be seen elsewhere on the Dingle Peninsula and on Skellig Michael. Four of these clochans are adjoined in pairs. There is also a single square clochan.

On the eastern side of the site is the monks' main place of worship, a square oratory (small church). Like the huts, this was made of dry-stone walls and a corbelled roof. In front is a small sunken area that may have been a shrine for relics.

Around and under the oratory is an earlier cemetery of 42 graves laid out in two rows. After the site was abandoned, the area around the oratory was used as a children's burial ground.

The Mainistir Riaisc is home to at least 10 cross-inscribed slabs, the most impressive of which is the Reask Stone, which is decorated with spiral designs and carved with the initials DNE, short for the Latin Domine ("Lord").

Quick Facts on Riasc Monastic Settlement

Site Information
Names:Riasc Monastic Settlement
Categories:monasteries; ruins
Styles:Pre-Romanesque
Dates:6th C
Status: ruins
Visitor and Contact Information
Coordinates:52.167447° N, 10.387831° W
Address:Ireland
Lodging:View hotels near Riasc Monastic Settlement
Note: This information was accurate when first published and we do our best to keep it updated, but details such as opening hours and prices can change without notice. To avoid disappointment, please check with the site directly before making a special trip.

References

  1. Personal visit (August 30, 2007)
  2. Informational sign at the site provided by Duchas
  3. Lonely Planet Ireland, 7th ed. (January 2006), 287.

More Information

A pair of adjoining © Holly Hayes
Pair of adjoining © Holly Hayes
The square oratory, with cross-inscribed stone near the entrance. © Holly Hayes
The most impressive of Riasc's cross-inscribed slabs is the Reask Stone, decorated with spiral designs and... © Holly Hayes
The most impressive of Riasc's cross-inscribed slabs is the Reask Stone, decorated with spiral designs and... © Holly Hayes
The most impressive of Riasc's cross-inscribed slabs is the Reask Stone, decorated with spiral designs and... © Holly Hayes
Pair of adjoining © Holly Hayes

Map of Riasc Monastic Settlement, Ireland

Below is a location map and aerial view of Riasc Monastic Settlement. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.