St Laserian at Lorum Co Carlow

I was hoping to have this post ready for the feast day of St Laserian  on the 18th of April   but better late then never.  St Laserian has strong associations with Co Carlow and I have discussed  the modern pilgrimage to St Laserian  at Old Leighlin Co Carlow in previous posts. The saint is also  associated with a place called Lorum  in Co Carlow.

According to folklore  when St Laserian returned to Ireland from Rome he set out in search of a location to build a monastery.  When he came  Lorum  (a few miles south-east of Muinebheag (Bagenalstown)) he stopped on top of a large hill . The saint was so impressed by the area that he decided to build a monastery here. God however had other plans for him, and while he knelt in prayer an angel  proclaimed ‘ Go where you shall see the first shinning, and there shall your religious house be established’ ( O’Toole 1933, 17).  Taking heed of the angel the saint  set off again on his search which ended when he arrived  Old Leighlin  which became the site of his  monastery.

Lorum (Leamdhroim in Irish) appears to have been the site of a religious foundation. Gwynn and Hadcock (1970, 397) recorded that Lorum was an early medieval monastery dedicated to  St. Laserian . Brindley notes in 1204 the Bishop of Leighlin was confirmed of his possession of lands including ‘Lenidruim’ (Lorum) (Cal. papal letters, 18). The church  at Lorum was valued at 3 marks in the 1302-06 ecclesiastical taxation of Ireland (Cal. doc. Ire., 250) and by the late 16th century it was in ruins.  The Ordnance Survey Letters for Carlow recorded Steward, writing in 1795, noted that the 18th of April, the feast of Laserian was celebrated at Lorum and  until  the  1830s a  pattern day was held here.


Loram Church of Ireland Church

All trace of this monastery and medieval church have long disappeared.  Today Lorum  consists a stunning Church of Ireland Church  built circa 1830 with a historic graveyard  on its western side . The  curve in the road on the east side of this church may tentatively reflex the line of an earlier medieval enclosure.


View of Lorum Hill showing the curve in the road on the east side of the church (taken

Within the historic graveyard are the ruins of  a post medieval church. The structure is  in poor condition  and with the exception  of the west gable only the foot prints of the other walls survive.  The upstanding gable appears to incorporated  stones from an earlier church.


Ruins of  post medieval church at Lorum.

The remains of an 18th century porch with red brick  in the fabric is  attached to the  exterior of west gable of the church.



Porch attached to west gable of Lorum Church

In 1837 Lorum church was described as ‘an old building, containing two modern tombs of the Rudkin family, has been recently repaired’ (Lewis 1837, 312).  The Ordnance Survey Letters  for Carlow (1837-40) recorded that at ‘

Lorum, there was, it is said, an old Church before the present Parish one, which is now falling to ruin, was erected. The spot where it stood is shown in a field, a few perches to the northeast corner of the Parish Church  and a few yards to southwest corner of a Church (C of I church) which is now in progress of being built (O’Flanagan 1934, 311).

The ITA Survey of 1945 identifys the ruined church as the remains of an 18th century Church of Ireland Church and the medieval church as being located as a low-rise of ground inside the graveyard. Both churches were replaced by a  seven-bay Gothic Revival Church with buttresses and parapet built c. 1838 and designed  by Frederick Darley.


Church of Ireland Church at Lorum built 1838

Close to the church are the ruins of a small post medieval house which shows signs of rebuilding and alterations.


Post medieval building at Lorum

A plain granite base of a high cross provides the only physical evidence of early medieval  activity at the site.


Base of high cross at Lorum

The remains of a second  early medieval cross are found 200m to the west of Lorum graveyard. The  cross is located on the north side of  east-west running bohereen.


Bohereen leading to Lorum cross and cairn

The monument consists of  a medieval cross shaft set in a cross base  sitting on top of a cairn of stones and earth.


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Lorum is associated with two holy wells. According to ITA Survey (1945),  a well dedicated to St Laserian was located to the north  the old graveyard. The well was not recorded on the 1st ed OS 6-inch map for the area but the files state it was covered by well house  and located northnorthwest of the  church.  The farmer who owns the land the well was located on told me there was no longer a well here and he had not heard of a holy well in this location before.

A holy well dedicated to St Molaise ( the Irish for Laserian) is located to the east of the old church.  The 1st ed OS 6-inch  marked the well as St Molappoge’s well. The well which is now dry is  stone-lined  and rectangular in shape. It is  covered by  a  large lintel stone. The well is in reasonable condition but is no longer visited by pilgrims.



St Molappoge’s  holy well


St Laserian is no longer  venerated in the area and all focus of the saint has moved to Old Leighlin.  This is a lovely place to visit and you can see why St Laserian wanted to settle here.


Brindley, A. 1993. Archaeological Inventory of County Carlow. Dublin: Stationery Office.

Gwynn, A. & Hadcock, R. N. 1970. Medieval Religious Houses in Ireland. Dublin: Irish Academic Press

ITA Survey of Carlow 1945

Lewis, S. A. 1995. A topographical dictionary of Ireland:London : S. Lewis & Co

O’Flanagan, Rev. M. (Compiler) 1934 Letters containing information relative to the antiquities of the County of Carlow collected during the progress of the Ordnance Survey in 1839. Bray.








The Pattern day at St Mullins, Co. Carlow

St Mullins is one of my favourite places and on Sunday the  22nd of July I headed along to the annual pattern day.

View of St Mullins graveyard and ecclesiastical settlement from Google Earth

A pattern day, is a day when people come together to perform pilgrimage at a holy well or saints grave, usually on the saints feast day. This  is a tradition that can be traced back to early medieval times.  Nineteenth century accounts suggest there were originally two main pilgrimage days  at St Mullins on the 17th of June the  feast day of St Moling and the 25th of July the feast of St James. Today the pattern  takes place on the last sunday before the 25th of July and prayers take place at the well and in the graveyard on the 25th of July.

St Moling founded a monastery here in the seventh century and he is reputed to be buried within the ruins of the monastic buildings found in the modern graveyard. Pilgrims having being coming to pray to St Moling  for centuries and St Mullins was one of the great pilgrimages in medieval Ireland.  A single blog post is not enough to discuss the history  and tradition of pilgrimage at the site,  I will just   focus on the  modern  pilgrimage.  I hope to write a second post about the  medieval and early modern pilgrimage in the  coming weeks.

On Sunday the pattern   began with the blessing of the water of the  holy well by the Parish Priest ,  the blessing was then followed by mass in the  nearby graveyard (attached to the ruins of the medieval monastic site).

Bless of the Well at St Mullins

View of the blessing of the waters at St Moling’s Well, St Mullins

Following the blessing  of the waters,  pilgrims  drink the water from the well and pray for their own intentions, before walking to the graveyard for mass. Some people  attended mass first and then went  to the well to drink its water.  The waters from the well are reputed to have great healing powers.

People walking from  St Moling's well to the graveyard

People walking from St Moling’s well to the graveyard

The well  which is dedicated to St Moling consists of a reservoir filled by nine springs  surrounded by a low wall.

Pool of water at St Molings Well

Pool of water at St Moling’s Well

The water flows from this reservoir into a small roofless structure.  To get to the water one has to enter through a narrow door. The water flows from the pool through  two large  granite holed stones in the back wall .  A rectangular cut stone  with a circular basin/depression catches the water  as it flows out.

The Holy well at St Mullins

The back wall of the structure at St Moling’s well

The water then flows  over flag stones out the door and into the nearby mill-race known as the Turas (Pilgrim’s Way).

Mill race beside St Moling's well

Mill race beside St Moling’s well

When I visited the well on the pattern day in 2008,  I met a lovely lady Molly who looked after pilgrims  at the well and handed out water to them , she told me she did this every year for 50 years and her father before her  did the same . This year  she couldn’t make it as  she had recently been ill, so two   local student  stepped in to help out.  I  forgot to  ask their  names, too busy talking. So  they were  in charge of  filling cups with water and handing them to pilgrims who didn’t want to go inside for the water ( the flagged floor was very wet so not everyone wanted to get their feet wet).  I also had a chat with Mr Joe Mahony who was originally from Coolrainey and is now aged 92. He told me that when he was young as well as drinking the water people would stick their heads under flow of water as it came out of the wall. It was the belief that this would protect them from ailments of the head for the coming year. Joe  is a great character has been in his own words  ‘ coming to the pattern day since before he was born’.

girl collecting water at st mullins

One of the local student in charge of giving water to the pilgrims

Mass  began in the graveyard at 3.  The weather was  wet and a constant light rain was down for the afternoon, but  despite the weather the graveyard was a see of coloured rain jackets and umbrellas.

View of Patron Mass from Summit of nearby Motte

Some tried to take cover from the rain under the trees or in the ruins of the monastic buildings.

Pilgrims hiding from the rain under the trees during mass at St Mullins

People of all ages  attendance on Sunday from small babies to the very elderly. There is a real sence that this is a very important event for the local community. The mass performed by the priest in the middle  of  the graveyard, at  the site of  a penal altar.

Mass  being at penal alter

Mass being at penal altar

It is amazing to think that this pilgrimage has been taking place for centuries and there is a real sence of community and  history here.

The Patron day is also a social event for local people,  in the green  beside the Norman Motte a short distance from the graveyard  there were amusements and stalls selling their wares, and chip vans .

Amusments  at St Mullins

Amusments at St Mullins

The pattern is a day for people to meet up with friends and have a chat.  Many local  people  who live in other parts of the county will come  back especially for the pattern.

Following the pattern, I headed to the  St Mullins Heritage Centre . The Heritage Centre is located in a former Church of Ireland church built in 1811 at the edge of the graveyard. It  is well worth a visit and has lots of information plaques of the history of the area, St Moling and the pilgrimage. The centre also deals with  genealogy queries .