The earliest churches in Ireland were made from timber and no trace of them remains today. They were replaced with stone churches during the eleventh century. These churches share several characteristics including a rectangular shape with a window at the east end and a flat lintelled door at the west end.
Another feature is antae, which meant that the side- walls extended for a number of inches beyond the gable walls forming rectangular pilasters. Dalkey Island Church is a perfect example of this style of church.
Another example of an Early Christian church is at Kill o' the Grange. The church is associated with Saint Finian and dates from the eleventh century, although parts of the church may date from the sixth century, being similar in detail to remains found at Glendalough. This church was until recently known as Clonkeen and is referred to for the first time in 1179 as Cluinchenn. The church is part of a particularly interesting site containing two crosses, a bullaun and a holy well.
Its original plan was a simple oblong (now the nave) and to this was added, over the years, a chancel and belfry. By the 1600s the church was in ruins and was not used again. The remains of this church today stand in the middle of a housing development scheme. This is indicative of how the development of today often impinges on the historic past. Today the holy well is buried and the bullaun stone is almost covered over.
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- Greening Communities
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