Situated on Inis Mór, Na Seacht Tempaill, or the Seven Churches as its otherwise known, was for centuries one of the biggest monastic foundations and centres of pilgrimage in the west of Ireland since it’s construction in the 7th or 8th century.
There are three theories as to why the site is called ‘Seven Churches’; The most common theory is that the site gives an allusion to the number of structures among the ruins, while others state that it may be in reference to a Roman pilgrimage trail that incorporated seven churches or that the name lends itself to the seven saints who are buried on the site with their graves marked with ancient Celtic crosses.
Whatever the reason, there are only really two churches on the site, ‘Teampall Bhreacán’ and ‘Teampall an Phoill’. The largest and most complete of the two ruins is St. Breacan’s Church (‘Tempall Bhreacán) which bears the name of a saint that moved to the area in the 5th century still features ornate stonework.
The second church, The Church of the Hollow (‘Teampall an Phoill’), which was later constructed in around the 15th century is notably smaller than its larger neighbor, but nonetheless as wondrously intact.
Surrounding the churches are the ruins of what are believed to have been a number of monastic dwellings which pilgrims would have stayed in.