St. MacDara’s Island Monastery is one of the best examples in Ireland of an early Christian oratory and is located on the remote but beautiful MacDara island, off the coast of Carna in Galway.
It is believed that a wooden monastery was founded by St. Macdara in the 6th century, and the stunning stone church which we see today, probably built in the 10th century but modeled exactly on its wooden predecessor.
St. MacDara is the patron saint of local fishermen and sailors, which is fitting seeing as the Carna and surrounding regions on the mainland have strong links to fishing. The church itself is very small, so much so, that it is believed that perhaps it was a tomb shrine for its founder.
St. Macdara is celebrated on 16th July each year with the Féile Mhic Dara (Macdara Festival) being held annually in Carna that day. On this day, there has been a long tradition of pilgrimage to the church on the island for Mass and celebration, help by local fishermen giving their time and their boats to ferry people out to the island in the morning and back in the afternoon.