Early Christianity in Castledermot and Moone and a Quaker village in Ballitore, Co Kildare:

The shape of pre Norman Christianity in Castledermot and Moone and a Quaker village in Ballitore, Co Kildare: The Castledermot/ Moone/ Ballitore region of Co Kildare represents one of the richest areas of cultural, religious, historical and archaeological interest in the world. Castledermot looks like a ghost town, and the baptistery in a corner of a field is over grown and the there is no flowing water. As Newgrange  represents Co Meath so Castledermot and Moone represent pre Norman Ireland and the Quaker Village in Ballitore show a more excellent way and they are the stars in the crown of Co Kildare. Bro Eoin of the Cistercian Monastery, Moone, Co. Kildare has been a pioneer in the field of research for over forty years. He has brought out a number of books on the High Crosses and was the person to research the baptisteries/Fonts and Holy wells. Bro Eoin has been the teller of the stories about these High Crosses as he serves with his brothers in Bolton Abbey.It is hoped a video of Bro Eoin telling the story of the High Crosses will be completed soon. In the meantime here is a resource to help you on your way.

Kildare Monastic sites including Moone and Castledermot

Bro Eoin

Monks Bolton


He would argue that Castledermot was where the Crosses originated and that the Moone community followed the example of the monks in Castledermot.

Bro Eoin explains the evolution of the crosses to Willard Roth and George Corrigan who has a great interest in the history of dissenting Protestants in the area.

Here is the presumed grave of the founder of the community Dermot:

The presumed grave of Cormac the High King of Munster :

We will  return to discuss the Baptistery in Castledermot, but it is now time move onto Moone where there was a flowering of the High Crosses. Here is the Cross inside to protect it, it was outside for centuries. In Moone Bro Eoin gave a masterful presentation on all the dimensions of the High Cross.

Baptistery in Moone:     

Just up the road from Moone is the Quaker Village of Ballitore. It had a  Quaker school  where the famous political philosopher and anti revolutionary Edmund Burke,  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edmund_Burke  and later Cardinal Cullen a very strong exponent of explicitly Catholic education went to school.    http://www.answers.com/topic/paul-cullen- rugby league                    http://www.answers.com/topic/paul-cullen-bishop In Ballitore the name Shackelton is revered and it where the famous Antarctic Explorer family originated from.

http://indigo.ie /~jshack/ernest.html



Back in Castledermot: Note the baptistery which Bro Eoin has found. He argues that the Normans brought  the system of compulsory infant baptism to Ireland. This was linked to Peter’s pence which involved a tax on each baptised person going to Rome. Before that Irish Christians practised believers’ baptism. The Baptistery is at the edge of the Franciscan Abbey. It must precede it by about 400 years.

“The Baptistery was totally overgrown when visited in September and November 2011

It is totally unrecognised and cared for, and the town around these sites which is as important as Newgrange or the pyramids of Egypt is dying. Hopefully a local school in Castledermot and the county Council will take an interest in this Heritage and thereby begin the journey to make this area a centre of tourism and rediscovery of what it means to be human, not least Irish and at a deeper level Christian. Note: Since these comments were made in November 2011,  some work on making it look presentable has taken place as of June 23, 2012.

Friary taken from the Baptistery:

Franciscan Friary Casteldermot

The baptistery which was in good condition in 2012 is nearly empty in 2016 with large rocks in it.


Baptistery Castledermot1916a


Baptistery Castledermot1916b


Note that the future Archbishop of  Dublin Lorcan or Laurence O’Toole was born near Kilkea Castle:

He later was a monk in Glendalough before becoming the Archbishop of Dublin. You will see the same kind of Irish Christian voluntary community found in his home area of Castledermot.

Additional photos August 2014

View from the lakeAlong lakeview to Round TowerSt Kevin's oratoryView across graveyardGlendaloughNote no break in the cross.

Round Tower

Getting closer to Glendalough in 2016




Glendalough 1916

3 Responses

  1. Brother Eoin seems to be doing tremendous work. Hopefully the local authority will now take an interest in those wonderful sites and help to restore them. This area could be utilized to bring many tourists here, if the proper agencies got involved and promoted this great heritage.


  2. What a beautiful piece of work. Well done Dialogue Ireland. This is quiet fascinating and brilliant. Did not know such history existed. Thank You for showing such beautiful photographs of this area also.


  3. Great stuff – love the photos – thanks – Rene


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