Killevy Churches

This is the site of one of Ireland’s most important early convents, founded perhaps in the later 5th century by St Moninne (also called Darerca, daughter of Erc, or locally Bline). It was plundered by Vikings from Carlingford Lough in 923. Monastic life continued in the Middle Ages, when Killevy was a convent of Augustinian nuns until its suppression in 1542.

A large granite slab in the north part of the graveyard traditionally marks St Moninne’s burial. A round tower near the south-west corner of the church is known to have fallen in the 18th century but no trace survives.

The two churches are aligned in a row east-west and are linked by later walling, giving the impression of a single very long building. The west church is the older. Its west wall with the fine, massive lintelled door may date from the 10th or 11th century and it is the county’s only surviving pre-Norman church. The rest of the church must date from the 12th century.

The east church is medieval, from the time of the Augustinian convent. Its main feature is a decorated 15th-century east window. A stone with two carved crosses leaning against the west church’s east wall (exterior) is an early grave-marker. A souterrain (not accessible) runs close to the graveyard, partly under the road. To the south-west, higher up the mountain, is St Bline’s holy well, reached by a path which begins along the north side of the graveyard.

Source credit: Communities NI

Images: various