St Lurach founded an important church here in the 6th century. It was plundered by Vikings in 832 and burned in 1135. Following the 12th-century ecclesiastical reforms this was the seat of a bishop from the mid 12th to the mid 13th century, then served as parish church until the new church across the road was built in the early 19th century. This long history is reflected in the much patched and altered fabric, and the big uneven graveyard.
The earliest part of the church is the nave, built of large, unevenly sized stones and with traces of antae. It is perhaps as early as the 10th century. The fine west door, now under the added tower, probably dates to the mid 12th century. This door is of the same structural type as the Banagher door, with a lintel outside (under the tower) and a semi-circular arch within. The outer face is elaborately carved with Romanesque decoration: interlace, floral and animal motifs on the jambs and a crowded crucifixion scene on the lintel, with Christ flanked by the thieves and 11 other figures, perhaps representations of his disciples, with angels above the cross. The chancel may have been added in about 1200 and there are signs of later medieval and post-medieval alterations to the windows. The tower was added in the 17th century. West of the church, prominently sited in the graveyard, is a rough pillar stone with a carved ringed cross, visible only in good diagonal light. This is traditionally St Lurach’s burial place.
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