Staid 'Abbey'

Wakeman visited here on 4 August 1880 and painted this small ruined later medieval church, which measures 12m by 6m. It is located just 6m metres from a low sea cliff edge and is about 2 km south southwest of Streedagh strand.

Comparison between Wakeman's image and the photograph shows only minor changes, predominantly masonry collapse. However, what is not immediately evident from Wakeman's image is that the coast has actually eroded by about 20m in the last 150 years and if erosion continues the church will gradually fall into the sea.

Archaeological work has been carried out at the site in recent years (1994 and 2000) to record and rescue information about the site and to establish a way to protect it. Exposed archaeological remains in the cliff face included a souterrain (underground passage used for storage and shelter), a midden (a refuse site made up predominantly of discarded shells), open air cooking sites and a possible area of lime production to make mortar. Various archaeological surveys have uncovered archaeological features over an area of about 4.5 hectares, and there may be other buildings around the church.

Although Staid is traditionally called Staid Abbey there is no evidence that it was an Abbey. The present church may date to around the 15th century AD but the site in general seems to be associated with the early medieval monastic site of Inishmurray Island, which lies about 6.5km way. It may originally date to the 10th century or earlier and was possibly used as a hostel or stopping off point for clergy, pilgrims and other travellers to Inishmurray. Captain de Cuellar, a survivor of the three Spanish Armada ships wrecked at Streedagh in 1588, mentions Staid in a letter he wrote telling of his adventures. He found the church had been burnt and twelve Spanish hung from the rafters by the English. This, however, could be nearby AhamlishChurch and not Staid.

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