Killevy Churches, Co. Armagh
Location: From Newry, take A 1 south to B 113 into Meigh. Take the first right and travel approximately three
kilometers, to the third left. The Killevy Churches are on this road where it takes a sharp bend. Should be signposted.
Dimensions: The churches are aligned in a row E-W and are joined by later walling. The older west church has a
lintelled West doorway which may date from the 10th or 11th century. The rest of the church may be 12th century.
There is a small round-headed East window. In the South wall is a low doorway which at one time was blocked by a stone
basin. The larger East church ha a large East window with decorated label stops featuring carved masks of a king and
queen. A third mask of a bishop may have existed at the apex of the window arch. There are doorways in the North and
South walls. Against the wall of the west church is a cross pillar. This is likely an early grave marker and has a simple
cross inside a circle carved in relief. The foundation of a small rectangular building just outside the early West doorway
is sometimes taken as evidence of the former existence of a Round Tower but there is no proof of this.
St Moninna (or Bline) founded a nunnery on this site in the 5th century and the holy well and rag-tree on the nearby
hillside bear her name.
Features: There is a massive lintel in the West doorway. Many of the markers in the surrounding graveyard
are simple boulders with no inscription of any kind.
Comments: In a wall niche, a brick has been placed upon which people have placed a number of coins. Some are old
Irish punt, some euros and a few coins from other nations. I am curious to know if these are offerings to the saint,
or if this is a local custom to help fund the upkeep of the site.
History: Killevy Churches, in Ballintemple townland, is the site of an early important nunnery founded
by St Moninna (Darerca or Bline) in the 5th century. She first founded a nunnery at Faughart c 484. She moved with her
nuns to Beg-erin under St Ibar but finally returned north before the end of the century and settled at Killevy. Moninna
died about 517. A large granite stone to the north of the graveyard is reputed to mark her gravesite. Killevey was
plundered by Norsemen in 790 and in 923. The great store of the nuns' was damaged in 1146. About this time Killevy
became a convent of Augustinian nuns and remained thus until its dissolution in 1542, when the site was granted
to Sir Marmaduke Whitechurch. Though appearing to be one building, these are two churches built back to back.
The West Church dates from the 11th century and the East Church from 15th century.
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