Kileen Cemetery by the sea

On my way to Achill Island, north of Newport, I passed the Kileen cemetery, the name of one of my good friends (Killeen–but signage at the cemetery was spelled both ways). It was only a kilometer off the “carriageway,” and I decided to follow my curiosity. First, I stopped to consider my first jaunt down a one-lane roadway—if I met someone on the road, someone (I hoped not me) would have to back up a long distance before there would be any place to pull over. I calculated my odds with only 1 kilometer to drive, and pulled into the lane. I passed many sheep and lambs grazing in the pastures, and pulled over at a fork in the road to figure out my correct direction—just in time for an on-coming truck pulling a trailer full of sheep to pass me. Whew! Dodged that one! (HE wasn’t going to back up with a trailer, and I had no idea if I could figure out how to back up in my right-hand drive car–even the rear view mirror is on the “wrong” side.)

This sign alerted me to a small cemetery down a narrow lane

Sheep grazed in pastures beside the lane

The pastures were full of spring lambs, jumping and playing together

A warning sign for the sheep farming operation

I was rewarded when I reached the end of the lane with a small walled cemetery, and a view to the sea at low tide. There were several small boats moored nearby, and one launch high and dry—but the sun was setting, and the shadows were growing longer as I climbed the hill to visit the cemetery.

First view of Kileen Cemetery (central circle is the older section)

Beautiful location on the shore of the sea, nearing sunset

Fishing boats done for the day, and a launch to reach them in the morning

A monument to St. Brendan was a feature, with the story of St. Brendan’s Well and directions on the stone at the base for praying for favors from the saint.

St. Brendan, the patron saint of Newport

The story of St. Brendan’s Well, and direction for pilgrims to “make the station” to the saint.

In the center of the newer parts of the cemetery, the oldest graves were in a circle covered in stones, with no grass anywhere. The burials in this section, according to the guide on a sign nearby, were all from 1796 to 1849. The monuments were tilting and covered with lichens—a testament to the long years they had been weathering in place in this older part of the burial grounds.

The old, rocky portion of the cemetery

Monuments more than a century old, worn by the sea winds, weather and time

I found a sign explaining the legend of St. Brendan—who had told the locals to dig a well for water during a drought (at the base of his monument in the cemetery, long before the monument was erected), but not far from the shore of the sea. It was considered a miracle that the water was fresh, not brackish—and he was revered. The rest of the story is that the Devil came to take the well, picked it up, and carried it to the sea to throw it away—but St. Brendan stood his ground, and finally the Devil fell to his knees, leaving the well right at the shore, with two depressions where his knees had fallen. The water from the well is still fresh, and the prayers for those doing the pilgrimage to St. Brendan are spelled out on a sign nearby.

St. Brendan’s Well, right where the Devil dropped it at high tide

Specific directions for prayers asking for St. Brendan’s intervention

There was no one there while I looked around, and I managed to find my way out on the lane without any company as I headed back to Newport for the night.

Praying to St. Brendan for no company on the lane out to the carriageway (even if I didn’t do the prayers, leave a thread under a stone, circle around the well, or kneel)




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