Saint Manchans Shrine, Offaly

Today was a day to visit the Shrine of Saint Manchan. I have cycled through these various locations in Offaly several times but I never called into the small Church at Boher in Offaly to see the Reliquary Shrine of Saint Manchan.


The Reliquary contains some of the bones of Saint Manchan, a 7th Century Saint and it was constructed in the 12th Century.

The Reliquary is exquisite and very finely crafted. There are several small figures depicted on it one of whom is reputed to be a Norse Saint, Saint Olaf. Saint Manchan died sometime around 664 or 665  as a plague swept through Ireland.

Interestingly the figures hold variously a Book, an Axe and a Ball while one of them is twisting his double plaited Beard.

The Reliquary is I believe, one of the largest in Ireland and was probably made in Clonmacnoise. There is a replica of the Reliquary Shrine in the National Archaeology Museum in Dublin but the real thing is here, serenely and quietly occupying a niche in the small village of Boher nestled quietly in Offaly.

It was stolen in 2012 but thankfully quickly recovered. The National Museum were looking to take it into their care but Boher was having none of it and hung onto their National Treasure. It really is a stunning object.

The Church at Boher is a revelation inside with its magnificent Stained Glass Windows from the studio's of Harry Clarke in Dublin. I don't know much about Stained Glass but seemingly Harry Clarke was an internationally renowned master craftsman in that medium. If you like Stained Glass the windows at Clonfert Cathedral are by M and R Sillery from 1861 and quite exquisite.

After Boher on the road to Ballycumber I stopped at a Church of Ireland in Liss built in 1820. There were no identifying marks or signs at the Church and I believe it is no longer used for worship. It had several interesting features in the grounds which were well cared for. I presume it is a Board of First Fruits Church.

Next up was a quick stop at Ballycumber and a modern sculpture of a Pilgrim (either a Pilgrim or Saint Ciaran) going to Clonmacnoise I presume. I have a soft spot for Ballycumber where the River Brosna flows along a leafy riverbank walk.

I don't know who owns "Gussies" Pub in Ballycumber but I've nice memories of calling in on a chilly day, getting some hot tasty soup and a sandwich while the gloves and jacket dried out a wee bit by the roaring fire. Whenever I've been in Ballycumber "Gussies" Pub has been the epitome of hospitality.....

After that stop it was on to the tiny Hamlet of Raheen also in Offaly and the site of Saint Carthage's (Mochuta) Church. It is believed that Saint Carthage was very austere and also quite hard on the monks here in Raheen. His first Monastery was established in his native Kerry, then he established a Monastery at Raheen in the 6th Century before finally establishing a Monastery at Lismore in Waterford. I believe the local soldiery forced Carthage and his monks to leave the area.

The present Church on the site dates from the 12th Century and is one of the oldest still in use in Ireland. It's Romanesque Doorway and stunning rear window are a sight to see.
Restoration Project (Howley/Hayes)

I could only see it from the outside but it's a fantastic building steeped in history with lots of ruins on site from throughout the ages.

Behind this Church and standing all alone in a field is a beautiful old Medieval Church. I have not been able to find out any information on this lonely Church but it too has beautiful Romanesque architecture in the form of a stunning arched doorway.

Not far from here is Saint Anthony's Holy well and a historical garden memorial. It's a few minutes away from the Churchs in Raheen but its also worth a visit if you're in the area. 

There is signage in Boher for Saint Manchan's well but don't do what I did and cycle around for ages looking for it. The well is actually in Lemanaghan which is quite a bit away and easier to get to by travelling from Ballycumber to Lemanaghan along the R436.

At Lemanaghan is Saint Manhcan's Well, a ruined Church and a beautiful old stone walkway (Togher) to Saint Mella's Cell (Kell). The stone closest to the end of the trail has holes carved in it and is probably a Ballaun stone. This place is magical to say the least and well worth a detour.