Sundials in Ireland

Monastic Sundials

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"In the years following St. Patrick’s conversion of the people of Ireland to Christianity, monastic settlements, both large and small, were established throughout the land. The early Irish Christian monks established their communities well away from the towns and villages so that they could follow their monastic rules and live contemplative lives in isolation. In order to properly regulate their times of group prayer and, to a lesser extent, mark the passage of time for secular purposes, each monastery would have had a sundial to mark the appropriate prayer periods.These stone sundials were always set into the ground in open areas, within the boundaries of the monasteries, well clear of all shadows, with their faces orientated due south. The iron or timber gnomon was let into a horizontal hole in the stone, from which the hour lines radiated, casting a shadow along the lines in accordance with the time of day, and indicating noon by the vertical line running down from the base of the gnomon."
From: The Ancient Sundials of Ireland, Mario Arnaldi, The British Sundial Society, 2000.

The temporal lines on these sundials were designed not to measure the passing hours but to mark the times when canonical prayers should be said viz Dawn(Prime), Mid-morning(Terce), Mid-day(Sext), Mid-afternoon(None) and Evening(Vespers).

Only eleven of these ancient sundials have survived in Ireland. Another two have been 'lost' in the recent past. Two have survived in Wales and a fragment of another is to be found on the Isle of Man.

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for Dial details and photos

Map below shows locations of the known Ancient Monastic Sundials

Bangor Co.Down

Nendrum Co.Down

Saul Co.Down

Clogher Co.Tyrone

Kilcummin Co.Mayo

Monasterboice Co.Louth

Inishmore Co.Galway

Iniscealtra Co.Clare

Clone Co.Wexford

Toureen Peacaun Co.Tipperary

Emlygrennan Co. Limerick

Kilmalkedar Co. Kerry

Skellig Michael Co. Kerry

Maughold Isle of Man

Clynnog Fawr Wales

Tywyn Wales


West Skeam Co. Cork ???

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