Church Mountain

Cairn (WI015-029002-) on Church Mountain, Co. Wicklow, Ireland showing remains of church (WI015-029001-) and holy well (WI015-029003-). Td. Ballymooney
National Monuments Service

Church Mountain is a well visited location by people living in Donard and the Glen of Imaal.

Sliabh Gadoe as Church mountain is known.

Guth or Sliabh Gadoe as Church mountain is known lies north east of Donard village.  At a height of 1789 feet or 550 metres, it takes its name from the ruins of a church on its summit.  From the summit there are panoramic views reaching west to the midlands, north to Blessington lakes, east to Lugnaquilla and Sugarloaf and south to Keadeen.

Saint Palladius

In 430AD Saint Palladius accompanied by Saint Sylvester landed on the Wicklow coast and travelled West into the hills and upon reaching Donard founded a church here.  Since that time the church has become a place of pilgrimage.

Festival of Lunasa

Together with Croagh Patrick in Co. Mayo, Slieve Donard in Co. Down and Mount Brandon in Co. Kerry, these are four of the best examples of churches built on or near megalithic tombs or burial cairns.  All of these sites became important for the celebration of the festival of Lunasa and later with the conversion to Christianity as places of pilgrimage.

The Holy Well

The Holy Well, which is no longer visible, was visited for its healing powers and as a place to perform the  sacrament of baptism.  Lewis states ‘that the annual pilgrimage took place on August 15th each year’ (1).  In  recent years a prayer service has been held there on the last Sunday of July as a fundraiser for the local Sophie centre.

The mountain is now in the hands of a private owner and is a working farm.  If travelling there be aware of this and always keep animals on a lead.


(1)  Samuel Lewis:  A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, London 1837

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