Home Celtic St Adamnan’s Church, Lonan

St Adamnan’s Church, Lonan

by Bernadette Weyde

St Adamnan’s Church, also known as “Lonan Old Church” and originally known in Manx as Keeill ny-Traie, or “the chapel by the shore”, is the former parish church of Lonan in the Isle of Man. The church is situated in an isolated position surrounded by open farmland on the eastern coast of the island, between Groudle Glen and Baldrine. The eastern (and oldest) part of the church has been restored, but it is otherwise in a ruinous, though well-tended, condition.

St Adamnan was the Abbot of Iona between 679 and 704. The site on which the church stands is of ancient religious significance. The churchyard contains Celtic crosses, the oldest of which dates backs to the 5th century AD – evidence of an early keeill. In about 1190, King Reginald of the Isle of Man gave a grant of the land of Escadala in the Isle of Man to St Bees Priory, in Cumbria. It is likely that the site of the church was included in the grant, to which fact its subsequent reconstruction and selection as the parish church (despite its remoteness) are attributable.

In 1733 parishioners petitioned Bishop Wilson for a new church as this old church, dating from around 14th century, was very inconveniently situated and this same year an Act of Tynwald was passed for the building of a new parish church at Boilley Veen. When the new church was finally built – a hundred years later in 1833 – it was almost as remote to the population. The old church, though supposed to be pulled down, was left to fall into disrepair, however, in 1895 and on appointment as vicar, Rev John Quine, a noted antiquarian, rescued the old church from disrepair. The Friends of St Adamnan’s was formed in 1968 to keep the old church in good repair and ensure it remained as a working church and historical site.

Footnote by Bernadette Weyde: What a delight to visit St Adamnan’s – Lonan Old Church . When we arrived there were broody skies filled with chattering crow and jackdaws, it was a lovely welcome. Well done to all who take care of the church and grounds – they are a credit to you and all you do. Highly recommend a lingering visit!

(source: information on the cross slabs from St Adamnan’s Church; all other text courtesy of A Manx Notebook and wiki; photographs by Ber Weyde)

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