Ruins of Devenish Isle

Artist(s) : Jonathan Binns (Draughtsman), Louis Haghe (Lithographer), William Day (Lithographer)

View of monastic site on Devenish Island, in Lower Lough Erne. The ruined abbey and round tower stand on the island, with gravestones scattered around them. A boat with three passengers is in the foreground, to the right of the island. The surface of the lake and distant mountains are visible beyond the ruins.

Inscribed in Image

  • Signature – Sketched by Jonathan Binns. / Day and Haghe, to the Queen.
  • Caption outside of boundaries of image – Ruins of Devenish Isle.

Image Details

Genre Landscape
Technique Lithographs
Subject(s) Antiquities and archaeological sites, Nature
Geographical Location
  • Devenish monastic site - Named locality
  • Devenish Island - Island
  • Fermanagh - County
  • Ulster - Province
Keywords(s) Archaeological sites, Boats, Buildings, Cemeteries, Churches, Hills, Islands, Lakes & ponds, Men, Mountains, Passengers, People, Round towers, Ruins, Steeples, Towers
Colour Monochrome
Dimensions 9.4 cm x 14.1 cm
Published / created 1837

Bibliographical Details

Travel Account The Miseries and Beauties of Ireland
Print or manuscript Print
Location of image in copy opp. p. 275.
Source copy National Library of Ireland J 9141
Alternative source

This is a link to a digital copy hosted by an external website.
Rights Courtesy of the National Library of Ireland

Related text from travel account

Devenish Isle, on Lough Erne, (little more than a mile from Enniskillen) is rich in objects of antiquarian interest. Here are the ruins of an abbey and a monastery, between which stands a pillar-tower, thought by some to be the most beautiful of any of those mysterious buildings. The height has been variously stated at 90, 76, 82 feet, and 82 feet 10 inches, and the circumference from 41 to 48 feet. The differences in the measurements // of the circumference may be accounted for from its being wider at the bottom than the top. The walls of this remarkable structure are of hewn stone and mortar, and are 3 feet 6 inches thick. In the uppermost story are four windows, corresponding with the cardinal points, and above each is a keystone, ornamented with a sculptured human head. The conical roof is supported by diminishing courses, and finished by a well-shaped capstone. In the inside the tower is smooth, except for projecting rests, presumed to be for the support of floors. Additional interest attaches to this remarkable monument when viewed in connexion with its venerable companions in ruins, particularly the monastery or upper church, with its beautiful little ivy-mantled tower. The basement story is groined, and through the ceiling, which is of limestone, two apertures are worn smooth by the passing of the bell-ropes. The carving of the fluted architraves is very perfect. In a spiral staircase leading to the battlements of the tower is a tablet bearing an ancient inscription, dated 1449, signi- // fying that Bartholomew O'Flanragan was prior. In another part is a niche, exhibiting the arms probably of the founder. The buildings are composed of a dark limestone found on the borders of the lake. The monastery or abbey is supposed to be of a much earlier date, and has suffered in a greater degree from the effects of time. These religious edifices are said by the Rev. G. N. Wright to have been founded by Las re an, also called St. Molaisse, a native of Carberry near Sligo, previously to the year 567. The day of his decease, the 12th of September, being well attested, was for many years observed as a festival in the island. Each of the buildings formerly possessed a bell, but at the suppression it was directed that they should be carried to Armagh. On this occasion (which is supposed to have been the anniversary of the Saint's death), one of them was conveyed safely over the lake, but the boat containing the other, sunk;—the place where the bell is supposed to lie, is pointed out. A little to the south of the ruins is a stone coffin, the interior assuming the shape of a human body. This // coffin is called Molaisse's bed, and is renowned for the virtue it possesses in the removal of diseases, and for the good fortune conferred upon those whose shapes it happens to suit. The burial-ground in Devenish Isle is still used as a place of interment. The funeral party embark at the opposite shore in the cots above-mentioned, and incur considerable danger in the passage across. A few years ago seventeen persons were drowned on an expedition of this sort; but an old woman and two men, who clung to the coffin in their extremity, were saved. [pp. 275-278]
Ruins of Devenish Isle