Gallarus Oratory and Castle


Gallarus Oratory Dingle Peninsula

The Gallarus Oratory was built sometime between the 7th and 8th century and is a small chapel probably used for private worship.

The oratory is the only perfectly intact remaining example of a small corbel-built oratories based on a rectangular plan, most being beehive rounded shaped structures, many examples of which can be seen around Slea Head.

Corbel roofs were built with a downward tilt of the stone to ensure rain flows off the structure without allowing water into the building. (Probably Ireland’s best known corbel-roof structure is Newgrange in Meath.)

With rectangle plan structures such as Gallarus this is an extremely difficult piece of engineering to pull off, and Gallarus is a testament to the skills of the builders who put up the structure so many centuries ago.


Gallarus Oratory has two openings, a western doorway and small eastern window. The doorway has a double lintel, on the interior of the doorway two stones project out from the wall, each stone has a round hole, possibly for the attachment of a door.


The round headed window splays more widely towards the inside of the wall. Some downward sagging has occurred cross the length of the roof, but besides that the building is in excellent condition.

The grounds were probably donated to the religious order by a local chieftain and the inhabitants would have been pretty much self-sufficient, growing their own food on the land around the oratory, keeping some livestock and of course sea fishing along the nearby coast.


The Office Of Public Works are responsible for maintaining the site which is well kept, and has a Fuchsia-lined walkway to it from one entrance.


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