Ardfert Cathedral, County Kerry

Ardfert Cathedral, County Kerry

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Ardfert Cathedral has a Romanesque west doorway with outward pointing chevron decoration in the Anglo-Norman style. It is flanked by blind arcading with lozenge-stonework similar to that found in parts of south-west France. It also has a 13th Century east window and a row of nine lancets in the south wall. Two effigies of ecclesiastical figures of the late 13th or early 14th Century period are mounted on either side of the east window. The battlements were added in the 15th Century. The pre-12th Century block of masonry is clearly visible in the north wall.

A monastery was founded here by St. Brendan “The Navigator” in the 6th Century and besides the cathedral there are two smaller medieval churches on the sites. One of these is a fine example of late Romanesque and the other is a plain 15th Century structure with a carving of a wyvern on one of the windows. In the north-east corner is a double rectangular niche containing a grotesque head with lips pulled back to reveal large teeth.

This may be a variant of the "mouth-puller" motif often found in Spain and western France. To the north-west of the cathedral itself is Temple-na-hoe, a late Romanesque church, whose chancel has now disappeared. It has decorated three quarter columns instead of antae at each cornerstone, with heads and bird motifs on the capitals. A cornice decorated with spiral bosses supports the roof. The west doorway is plain, but the south window has floral ornament and the chancel arch has chevron ornament.

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