The tiny roofless oratory, known as the Priests' House, lies to the SW of the cathedral. Its internal dimensions are 4.40 m by 2.33 m. There is a narrow door in the S wall and a curious blind arch in the E wall, the latter decorated with Romanesque ornament. As Leask noted, except for the first two or three courses of masonry, the structure is a restoration. Unfortunately the Office of Public Works based their reconstruction in the 1870s on Beranger's drawing of 1779, which did not give an accurate impression of the medieval building.
The doorway has plain jambs which support a partially broken lintel, carved in shallow relief. The lintel is only 0.07m greater than the inner width of the door. The stone appears to have had a curved upper surface, but the top L section was broken away before it was set in its current position.
The carving depicts a seated figure in the centre, set frontally, holding an open book. The head is missing. A figure in profile approaches from the R, holding a bell. Another figure in profile is depicted on the L, holding a crosier or staff. The upper L section of this figure is lost. The exact interpretation of the panel remains unclear.
|depth of lintel||0.23 m|
|height of lintel||0.23 m|
|width of lintel||0.62 m|
A narrow, round-headed light is set within a complex opening in the exterior E wall.
The bases of the opening are decorated with foliate motifs, broader in conception on the N side than on the S. The jambs have an angle roll with a recessed central row of beading; fillets flank the roll. The lowest stone on the S side lacks beading.
The S capital is an undecorated block. On the N side a thin horizontal strip, 0.07 m high, survives from the bottom of the original capital. It includes the chin and moustache of a human head, set on the angle, with strap-like interlace on each side. On the E face there are traces of curled hair. The upper section of the capital is modern. A chamfered impost lies above.
The arch has seven voussoirs on the S, and six on the N. It is decorated with a single row of point-to-point chevron (formed by a fillet rather than a roll), meeting on a keeled angle roll. There are triangular compartments on the face and soffit which are filled with foliage (two or three simple leaves). On the S side the fifth stone from the bottom extends L into a more ornate pattern. The stones differ in width: some have one chevron per stone, others two, and one has three. The soffits have diagonal tooling.
The label has alternating thick and thin rows of directional chevron, pointing both up and down, depending on the location of the stone.
|maximum width of opening||2.16 m|
On the E wall, to the L of the sill of the window, is a stone with incised foliage decoration, contained within a semi-circle.
G. L. Barrow, Glendalough and Saint Kevin, Dundalk, 1972, 33–7.
Glendalough, Co. Wicklow, Official Historical and Descriptive Guide, Dublin, n.d., 18–20.
R. Moss, 'The Priests' House Glendalough', BA dissertation, Trinity College Dublin, 1992.