Sundials in Ireland - Ancient Monastic Dials

Clogher Co.Tyrone

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In the 12th century Old Irish manuscript Lebor Laignech, the Book of Leinster, it has the Cloch Óir ('The Gold Stone' at Clogher, Co.Tyrone ) as one of the Three Oracle Stones of Ireland, the others being the Lía Fáil (the Stone of Destiny at Tara, Co. Meath) and Crom Cruaich (the Killycluggin Stone in Cavan).

Many thanks to Brian McElherron for photos

According to tradition a monastery and bishopric were founded in Clogher circa 490 A.D. by St. Macartan on the orders of St. Patrick. In 1041, the church of Clogher was rebuilt, and dedicated to the memory of St. Macartan. It was again rebuilt in 1295 by Matthew M'Catasaid, Bishop of Clogher, but burnt to the ground on 20 April 1396 along with two chapels, the abbey, the court of the bishops, and thirty-two other buildings with all their contents. In 1610 the Catholic Abbey and its revenues were confiscated by James I, King of England, and given to the Church of Ireland Diocese of Clogher. The present church was built about 1744 A.D.

There is no trace of the Cloch Óir at Clogher today but there is an ancient monastic vertical stone sundial dated circa 800A.D.    1470 mm high, it is the most elaborately carved monastic sundial in Ireland with geometric knotwork designs both below and above the sundial.

"This is a rather worn sandstone slab, with an ugly long crack running through both faces, for more than half the length of the stele; however the sundial is clear and intact... The appearance of this stone is very ancient, and some of the decorative features indicate a remote date of origin. The face, on which the sundial appears, shows a different form to all other Irish monastic sundials. The body of the stele, with a small rectangular extension at the top, is decorated with an inter-laced design resembling basket work, under which, in relief, is a well shaped fish. On the rear face one sees the indistinct face of a man, and in the part that would correspond to the torso, is engraved a very rudimentary cross. The sundial is inscribed in a semicircle and shows three time lines, terminating in a very deep mark. The segment angles follow the scheme 30, 90 and 150 degrees that are common in the monastic sundials of Ireland."
    From: The Ancient Sundials of Ireland, Mario Arnaldi, The British Sundial Society, 2000

The sundial was removed from the old cemetery in 1969 to inside the C.o.I.Cathedral of St. MacCartan at Clogher on the A4 between Ballygawley and Enniskillen about 10km from Ballygawley

British Sundial Society SR No 4218

Lat 54° 24' North  Long 7° 10' West

Irish Grid    H  254120   350490

If you know the location of a sundial in Ireland (NOT a mass produced DIY Store garden ornament) please email it to me (Click here to email M.J.Harley) - a member of British Sundial Society
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