Ireland’s Christian faith was established in the fourth century with the arrival of Patrick the missionary from Rome. Patrick travelled throughout Ireland, converting and instructing believers in the Christian faith. Pagan chieftains and their tribes became Christian converts. There are monastic sites, high crosses and round towers which remain today, giving us a glimpse into how Christian communities worshipped and announced their religious fervour.
In the seventh and eighth centuries Irish monks created ornate illustrated books of the Gospel which have survived invasion and later religious oppression. The Book of Kells is on display in Trinity College Library, Dublin.
For centuries after Patrick, Irish saints, scholars and missionaries left Ireland to evangelise Europe. Saint Columcille, Saint Columban, Saint Aidan and Saint Gall were missionaries in Europe. Their names are connected to churches and religious sites in Ireland, Britain, France and Switzerland.
Today there are many places in Ireland associated with Patrick and other early Irish saints. Armagh, Downpatrick, Dublin and Mayo have significant religious sites devoted to Saint Patrick which are visited by pilgrims and tourists each year.
We include in this section some resources on religious sites which explain Ireland's Christian heritage.
|Description of religious attraction||County||Resource|
|Glendalough Visitor Centre||Wicklow||Link to online information|
|Clonmacnois||Offaly||Link to online information|
|The Ecclesiastical Heritage of Galway, Mayo and Roscommon
||Galway, Mayo, Roscommon||Download|
|Abbeys, monasteries and churches||All counties||Link to online information|
|Croagh Patrick pilgrimage||Mayo||Link to online information|
|Lough Derg pilgrimage||Donegal||Link to online information|
|Marian Shrine, Knock||Mayo||Link to online information|
|Saint Patrick's Trail||Down and Armagh||Link to online information|
|The Saint Patrick Centre (in English, French, German and Italian)||Down||Download|
|Christian Heritage in North Down and Ards
Patrimonie Cristiano en North Down y Ards
Patrimonie Chrétien de North Down et Ards
Das Christliche Erbe in North Down and Ards
|Ardfert Cathedral||Kerry||Link to online information|
|Mellifont Abbey||Louth||Link to online information|
|Tintern Abbey||Wexford||Link to online information|
|Boyle Abbey||Roscommon||Link to online information|
|Sligo Abbey||Sligo||Link to online infomation|
|Trails of the Saints||Carlow||Link to online information|
Religious destinations by train
|Take a train to visit religious sites and places in Ireland. The Irish Rail/Iarnród Éireann train network goes to towns and cities across Ireland.
Download Religious Visitor Destinations by Rail.
Tourism offices and local councils publish information leaflets about historical and religious attractions in Ireland. Find out more about visiting religious sites in Ireland.
Read more about cultural tours which include visits to religious sites in Ireland.