Killeshin (Cill Uisen) , County Laois

In the 6th century St Comghan founded a monastery here , which became not only a place of prayer but also a noted centre of culture and learning. The monastery was razed in the 11th century and the present ruins date from the 12th century. The most notable remnant is a carved doorway , one of the finest examples of Irish-Romanesque architecture. On the abaci , the stonework above the beautifully carved heads , is an inscription which has been interpreted as reading ‘Prayer for Diarmit , King of Leinster’.

The carvings , in four recessed arches in the doorway , are said to contain 12 faces , but it is not easy to find them all. Nearby is the holy well of St Diarmuid which dates at least from the 6th century. Unfortunately , no trace remains today of a 105ft high Round Tower , reputed to be one of the tallest in Ireland , which stood next to the monastery. This was demolished by an 18th century landowner who said he was afraid it might fall and inure his castle.

The ruins are along a narrow lane just above a church built in 1823. From the hills above Killeshin , some say , as many as ten counties can be seen.

Kelleshin is a real hidden gem and is a must see on your Ireland tours.