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Ballinakill Abbey in Glinsk County Galway
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Ballinakill Abbey  ~   Williamstown
 
 
Archaeologists say that this oval shaped, hill-top site was an "early ecclesiastical enclosure", probably dating back to the 5th 0r 6th century. Ballinakill is taken from the Irish townland name of
Baile-na-cille, the place of the Church.
 
Little remains of this Church except for the east wall. It is reputed to have been the first gothic Church in Connacht.
Ballinakill Abbey an old Gothic Church in Glinsk County Galway
   
It had a plain nave and two narrow windows in the east wall, therefore was probably built in the along its North/South axis with the East/West axis being shorter at approximately 41 metres. The enclosing bank was built of clay and stone. The original entrance to the site is probably marked by a causeway featuring to South-east of the enclosing bank. The hill-top site was probably chosen as it commands a clear view on all sided particularly to the North. The best preserved portion of enclosing bank indicates that it was about one metre high (externally) and three metres wide at the base. The area inside the bank is a raised platform approximately 1.25 metres high. Along the South-east there still exists part of an outer ditch (2 metres wide) - this protective ditch is now almost completely filled.

This parish church of Ballinakill, little of which remains except for the east wall, is reputed to have been the first Gothic Church in Connacht. It had a plain nave (71ft. by 20ft). Two narrow windows in the East wall prove that it was, in fact, one of the earliest Gothic churches west of the Shannon. It was built, therefore, in the early part of the 13th Century. The building of this church would have coincided with the coming of the Normans and it is possible that the Burkes helped with the building as was normal for Norman families who came to this country. One can only speculate as to when this parish church fell into disuse but it seems likely that it served the people of the area until the Suppression and the grant of church lands to Sir Nicholas Malby (1577).

The original church at Ballinakill was extended in the 14th century by the addition of a chapel (30ft by 17ft) which was the burial place of the Mac David Burkes. An outstanding feature of this chapel is its South window with fine tracery in a flamboyant design. The window was filled in in 1722 when a large inscribed monument to Sir John Burke was set on the inside. On the inside of the South wall there is also a fine limestone effigy to a Norman Knight. He is dressed in armour with a helmet and sword. Burke family tradition believed that the effigy was a likeness of William (conquerer) DeBurgh - the first DeBurgh (Burke) to set foot in Ireland

 

 
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