KILLALA, a former ecclesiastical capital, retains the old charms of past trade in the grey stone quays and warehouses of its waterfront and is is very rich in archaeological remains.
killala round tower
The most striking feature at the heart of Killala is the Round Tower.
It is of late date - probably the 9th to 11th century - and is by far the best example of a Round Tower in Mayo. It is also considered to be one of the best in the country and indicates the ancient celebrity of the place as an ecclesiastical centre.
The foundation of the Killala diocese dates from the time of St Patrick who placed his disciple St Muredach over the church - called in Irish Cell Alaid.
Muredach's appointment to the Church of Killala dates back as early as 442 or 443 AD. Little is known of the successors of Muredach down to the 12th century apart from a Bishop Cellach. Cellach came of royal blood, flourished in the 6th century and was foully murdered at the instigation of his foster-brother. (Source: New Advent-Catholic Encyclopedia)
Like all Round Towers, the Killala tower was most likely used as a Belfry (as the Irish name suggests - Cloig Teach) and it would certainly have given a secure refuge from any hostile visitors.
In the centre of Killala stands a Church of Ireland Cathedral.
This was built in 1670 using the rubble and stone from the remains of the ruined medieval Catholic Cathedral which stood on the same site.
It is furnished with boxed pews and the graveyard contains a 9th century souterrain with numerous chambers.
antiquities galore ...
CEIDE FIELDS (a short distance away) is an ancient archaeological site which contains one of the oldest enclosed farms in the world. The site dates back five and a half thousand (yes, 5,500) years ago and is older than the pyramids in Egypt and Stonehenge in England.
The Battle of Moyne (1281 AD) was fought between rival groups of Norman settlers. There is a standing stone nearby and the site of Kilroe Church which is one of the earliest known Christian locations in the area.
Rathfran Abbey was a Dominican Abbey which was founded in 1274 AD. It was burnt down in 1590 but the chancel walls still remain to this day.
Rosserk Abbey - an early Franciscan Friary - was founded in 1400 AD.
Moyne Abbey, also nearby, was a Franciscan Friary which was founded in 1460 AD.