Yet another of Ireland’s pocket cathedrals can be found at Ardmore, County Waterford. A religious settlement is said to have been established here by local saint Declan, one of a small number of missionaries who are supposed to have preached the Christian message before the arrival of Saint Patrick. An 8th century oratory is supposed to be Declan’s burial place. The cathedral stands immediately adjacent to it, and dates from the 12th century.
The remains of Ardmore Cathedral look much like those of other Irish Romanesque churches, but the surprise lies on the west gable. A long blind arcade here features various Biblical scenes, and although some of these are well-worn, or now blank, it is still possible to work out certain images, such as those showing Adam and Eve on either side of the Tree of Knowledge, and the Judgement of Solomon. The same site also contains one of the country’s tallest Round Towers, of the same date as the cathedral.
Only the central section of the Ardmore Cathedral is said to be of 12th C. construction. The building is an amalgam of three, with a distinct 8th C. original church to the east of the Chancel arch and the two extremities said to date C. 14th C. It is believed that the west gable is a reconstruction of one that had stood where the entrance gate is situated.
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