A guide to the early Christian site of Kilmalkedar Church on the Dingle peninsula.

Donncha Ó Dúlaing squeezes through a narrow window gap in the church at Kilmalkedar. Historian Ted Creedon who shows him round the remains of the religious site.

They say you can get to heaven from here by coming through this east window.

Kilmalkedar is the centre of the early Christian movement in the 5th century continuing to the 12th century and onwards. The church of Saint Maolcethair dates back to the 12th century but the site dates back much further. It is said that Maolcethair came from Donegal to promote Christianity.

One of the most interesting features on the site is a sandstone dating from around the 7th century which originally marked a grave and was later adapted as a teaching stone. Evidence of this can be found in the alphabet markings. Another stone from the same era was discovered just a year ago in a nearby farm.

The architecturally elaborate and decorative Kilmalkedar Church, built around 1137, has been likened to Cormac's Chapel in Cashel County Tipperary which was built about 1134. The church was built using an architectural technique known as corbelling, which is evident in the craftsmanship used in the construction.  The church also has a decorative doorway featuring a tympanum and a finial.

Another feature of interest on the site is an Ogham stone which is said to have certain curative powers.

If you walked around it a number of times, you would be cured.

The stone could predate anything else on the site and is inscribed with Ogham writing, the first form of Irish writing from around the 4th century and used for educational purposes.

A 7th century sandstone cross sits very low in the ground with 1.8 metres of the shaft lying below ground.

There is also a sundial dating from around the 12th century which indicated the time of day to say certain prayers.

Ted Creedon closes with a verse of poetry about Kilmalkedar.

In Kilmalkedar church yard there’s a wondrous cross of stone
And near at hand a Ogham pillar midst countless dead unknown
Some twenty paces to the west a sun dial waits in vain
For measured time is standing still, an ancient peace prevails.

This episode of 'Donncha’s Travelling Roadshow’ was broadcast on 22 March 1980. The presenter is Donncha Ó Dúlaing.

'Donnchas's Travelling Road Show' was a six part series presented by Donncha O'Dulaing looking at rural Ireland, its people, music and traditions. The first episode in the series was broadcast on 14 March 1979 on RTÉ 2.