St Feichin, Ballysadare

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Feature Sets (2)


The ruined church known as St Feichin's church (Tempull Mór Feichin) is a single-cell structure incorporating some Romanesque features. It has an E window (obscured by ivy) and two tall, narrow, round-headed S windows of one recessed order, splayed on the interior. The church was once divided into an upper and lower level at the W end and has a small, low, square window in the N wall and a blocked doorway with inclined jambs in the upper W wall. There is also a rectangular window high up in the W end of the S wall, with a row of holes for joists below. A roll is carved on all the exterior angles of the building apart from the NE angle. There are other building remains on the site but these are very overgrown. Sculpture is found on the very weathered rebuilt S doorway.


Gwynn and Hadcock (1970, 160) record that an early monastery was founded at Ballysadare by St Feichin of Fore in the 7thc. and that an Augustinian Abbey existed there in the 12thc., possibly prior to 1166. The Augustinian Canons moved to a new site a short distance to the W of the original site (Killanin and Duignan). Archdall records that the abbey was burned in 1179 and again in 1188 (?source) and the Annals of Connaught record that the area from Ballysadare southward was ruined in 1228. Gwynn and Hadcock suggest that this may have led to the Abbey Church being rebuilt.


Exterior Features


S doorway, rebuilt

Round headed of two orders, with a tympanum of shaped and irregular stones, which rests on a wide, flat lintel, both probably inserted when the doorway was rebuilt.

first order L capital depth (W face) 0.38 m
first order L capital height 0.21 m
first order L capital width 0.24 m
first order R capital depth (E face) 0.39 m
first order R capital height 0.23 m
first order R capital width 0.24m
height of doorway 1.70 m
second order L capital depth (W face) 0.32 m
second order L capital height 0.19 m
second order L capital width 0.47 m
second order R capital depth (E face) 0.39 m
second order R capital height 0.21 m
second order R capital width 0.53 m
width of doorway 1.24 m
First order

No bases, jambs with a deep hollow on the reveal and angle roll. There are deep hollows at top and bottom of the N face of the W jamb, probably for door fixings. Above the jambs are massive capitals with integral necking. W capital: on the S and W faces lions confront across the SE angle and appear to share one head. Each has an arched neck and raised haunches. The limbs, in contrast to the rounded bulk of the body, are spindly. The lion on the W face is more readily readable than that on the S face; a drilled eye is visible, as are the claws of the rear foot, and a foliate tail curls over its back. The S lion has a compressed appearance as it is carved across a narrower surface than the W lion. The N (inner) face of the capital is undecorated. E capital: as W capital, but more severely weathered.

Second order

No bases, jambs with angle roll. W capital: too weathered to read. E capital: although very weathered the forms of two beasts confronted across the angle or with a shared head on the angle can be made out. In the arch there are ten voussoirs of varying size. All are carved with a single head, apart from voussoir 10, which has two heads. The carving is in extremely poor condition but it is clear that most of the heads are human apart from voussoir 4, which is a beakhead. There are no imposts, the arch and chamfered label rest directly on the capitals of the outer order. Adjacent to the capitals on the s. face are reset corbels carved with human heads. These are severely weathered and no features can be made out.


Leask compares the heads on the doorway with those at Inchagoill in Galway. The building is now almost completely obscured by ivy (2003). 


  • M. Archdall, Monasticon Hibernicum, or, a history of the abbeys, priories, and other religious houses in Ireland : interspersed with memoirs of their several founders and benefactors, and of their abbots and other superiors, to the time of their final suppression. Dublin 1786, 627.

  • M. Killanin and M. Duignan, The Shell Guide to Ireland. London 1962, 2nd ed. 1967, 104.

  • G.T. Stokes, 'St Fechin of Fore and his Monastery', JRSAI , 22 (1892), 4.

  • A. Gwynn and R.N. Hadcock, Medieval Religious Houses in Ireland. London 1970, 160.

  • P. Harbison, Our Treasure of Antiquities; Beranger and Bigari's Antiquarian Sketching Tour of Connacht in 1779. Dublin 2002, 71-75.

  • P. Harbison, Guide to the National and Historical Monuments of Ireland. Dublin 1992, 156.

  • H.G. Leask, Irish Churches and Monastic Buildings. Dundalk 1955, 162.

  • M.B. Timoney, 'St. Fechin's Ballisodare, Co. Sligo: Discoveries and Rediscoveries' in (ed.) M.A. Timoney A Celebration of Sligo; first essays for the Sligo Field Club. Sligo 2002, 149-160.

  • T. O'Rourke, History, Antiquities and Present State of the Parishes of Ballysadare and Kilvarnet in the County of Sligo. Dublin 1878.

  • W. Wakeman, 'Notice of the Architectural Peculiarities of some Ancient Churches in Co. Sligo', JRSAI, 17 (1885), 43-54.

Print, showing ruined church


Site Location
National Grid Reference
G 67 30 
now: Sligo
now: St Feichin
Type of building/monument
Ruined church  
Report authors
Hazel Gardiner