Inchagoill, Cong in Co. Mayo

This is one of the many islands in Loch Corrib, it is the most visited island on the lake which is no surprise considering its archaeological wealth.

There are two church ruins; the first known as St Patrick’s was a tiny church thirty feet long dating back to the 5th century. The second referred to as The Saints Church, is slightly larger and dates to a later era; this ruin has a Celtic doorway of sculptured heads attributed to 12th century architectural art. Set in an inside wall is a stone bearing an ancient carved ‘puzzle’ of Byzantine crosses and there is also a font-like stone or bullaun. A mound just by the Saints Church is the grave of a 12th century Archbishop of Tuam.

In addition to these monuments there is a standing stone of great significance the Lia Lugnaedon (The Stone Of Lugna). It is 2ft 6 inches in height and bears the inscription in very ancient Roman characters and crosses. Experts claim the writing to be the oldest Christian inscription in Europe outside the catacombs.

The stone is believed to be called after St Patrick’s navigator, Lugna the son of the saint’s sister. Each year since 1960 on a Sunday in June the people of Cong gather in Inchagoill to honour the Corrib saints and mass is celebrated at the tiny church of St Patrick.

By Bernie O'Malley