Lemanaghan Ecclesiastical Settlement, Offaly

The site of Lemanaghan's early Christian settlement is a place of hidden history and beauty nestled in an extremely quiet corner of Offaly.

Saint Manchán

A Monastery was founded here in the middle of the 7th Century by Saint Manchán on land given to him by Saint Ciarán of nearby Clonmacnoise.

Saint Manchán

Saint Manchán died, probably around 664 when a plague swept across Ireland. Lemanaghan is located on the R436 roughly midway between the villages of Ferbane and Ballycumber in County Offaly.

Saint Manchan

The Church on site today dates from sometime between the 10th and 11th Centuries to the late medieval period and has several early Christian cross slabs which have been affixed to the walls. There is also the ruins of a building believed to be a Priest's house in the surrounding graveyard.


Located just beside the Church is Saint Mancháns Holy Well which lies on a Togher (ancient stone causeway) adjacent to the site.  The Well is reputed to have healing properties.

Saint Mella

There is a Bullaun stone beside the Well and another Bullaun stone is located on the actual Togher at a junction.


A short walk along the Togher leads to a tranquil glade and secluded stone building, an Oratory known as Saint Mella's Cell.  Mella was the mother of Saint Manchán.

Ballaun Stone

It is well worth taking the couple of minutes to walk along the causeway to the simple but beautiful Oratory. Standing in this secluded spot it momentarily feels as if modernity is a world away.

Saint Manchán of Lemanaghan

More likely than not a trip to Lemanaghan may see the visitor encounter no one else at the site which adds to the sense of tranquility that seems to pervade the area.


On my visit birds and birdsong were my only accompaniment and it was a pleasure to be, even if only for a short while and in the words of Thomas Hardy, "far from the madding crowd".

Saint Manchan

While in the area it is worth noting that the hamlet of Boher is not far away and is the home of Saint Mancháns Shrine which is located in the small Roman Catholic Church in the village. 

Saint Manchan

There is a replica of the Shrine in the National Museum but the original is located here at Boher. It is a reliquary which is made of Yew and leather with ornate metal work on the exterior which depicts several figures, one of which is thought to be Saint Olaf from Scandinavia.

Harry Clarke Window

The figures on the Shrine are worth taking a close look at. Some of them have intricately woven beards more reminiscent of Rock Band members while some are holding objects such as a ball, stick, or axe. 

Saint Manchan

It is believed the reliquary contains the bones of Saint Manchán and was designed and made sometime in the early 1100's at Clonmacnoise.

Stained Glass

Several of the stained glass windows at Boher were designed by Harry Clarke, a famous stained glass artist. The Church is normally open throughout the day, you just need to turn the handle on the door to gain entrance.

If bigger is better head to nearby Clonmacnoise however if "interesting, historic, and tranquil" is your idea of somewhere nice to visit I'd highly recommend a trip to Lemanaghan and Boher in the quiet and idyllic countryside of Offaly.