St Molaise, Kilmolash

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Feature Sets (4)


Nave and chancel church. The nave and E wall are largely 15thc., the side walls of the chancel (5.5m x 4.4 externally) are 12thc. The fabric incorporates two early cross inscribed slabs and an ogham stone.


The monastery was plundered by Norsemen in 833.  In 912 Cormac Mac Cuileannan, bishop and vice abbot of Lismore, King of Déisi and abbot of Cell-Mo-Laise was martyred here.  


Exterior Features


N doorway, nave

In the N wall of the nave is a lintelled doorway with external rebate.  Above the lintel to the right is a roughly square block of sandstone set into the wall (0.33m x 0.27m).  The visible face of the sandstone is carved in low relief with a rosette comprising a central circular pellet with an outer concentric circle from which radiate twelve petals.  The motif fills a square field (broken along one edge), which is framed by a row of pellets.

Interior Features


Chancel arch/Apse arches

Chancel arch

Plain jambs and voussoirs with diagonal tooling.  The responds have a plain quadrant moulding.
w.     2.8 m
 h. (to top of impost) 2.06 m

Loose Sculpture


A fragment half buried in the ground close to the ambury in the chancel.  It is slightly curved and carved in very light relief on one face with a lobed scroll pattern (see sketch).  There is a projecting lip along the top edge of the carved face.  Both the narrow top and bottom edges are tool finished as is the convex plain face.  The fragment possibly formed part of a font.
h.    0.22 m
w.     0.2 m
d.    0.06 m


The rosette, now occupying a secondary position over the doorway is comparable to rosette motifs found at Cormac's Chapel Cashel, Roscrea and Coole, Co. Cork (O’Keeffe, 1994). Power (1898) suggested that it might have been part of the arm of a cross.  It is more probable that, like at Roscrea and Cashel, it was a decorative insert in the wall of an earlier building.  Buckley (1896) mentions a font carved with a 'fret-like' motif part of which was used to build a wall, another part of which was preserved in the ambury of the chancel.  It is possible that the curved fragment described above is part of this font.  Buckley also mentions a carved head with a tonsure surmounting St. Columcille's well about a mile away in Curraghroche townland.  The head is now missing, but may have belonged to the church at Kilmolash.


  • M.J.C. Buckley, 'Notes on Kilmolash Church, near Cappoquin County Waterford'.  Journal of the Waterford and South-East Ireland Archaeological Society, 2, (1896) 212-20.

  • A. Gywnn and R.N.Hadcock; Medieval Religious Houses Ireland. (London, 1970) 394

  • T. O'Keeffe,  'Lismore and Cashel: reflections on the Beginnings of Romanesque Architecture in Munster'. JRSAI, 124, 1994, 118-151

  • P. Power, 'The Ancient Ruined Churches of Waterford'. Journal of the Waterford and South-East Ireland Archaeological Society, 4, 1898, 89-92.

Chancel arch, W face.
Chancel arch, W face.
W window.
Grave yard.
Fragment, N wall.
Fragment, N wall.
Fragment of ?font.
Fragment of ?font.
N doorway, rosette on stone above.
N doorway, rosette on stone above.
N doorway, rosette on stone above.


Site Location
National Grid Reference
medieval: Waterford
now: Waterford
medieval: not confirmed
now: St Molaise
medieval: not confirmed
Type of building/monument
Church (ruin)  
Report authors
Rachel Moss 
Visit Date
16 Sept 1996