New Road to Brendan’s College, Cathedral Walk, the Bishop’s Palace and the Ogham Stone
As you walk from the top of High Street and down New Road, you will turn left onto Cathedral Walk and pass St Brendan’s Seminary on the left. Known locally as ‘The Sem’, this secondary school for boys has an excellent educational and sporting record. Many of Kerry’s finest footballers passed through its doors, as did the famous actor Michael Fassbender. The college was built in the Gothic Revival style that was popularized in Killarney during the late nineteenth century due to the influence of the renowned architect, A.W. Pugin.
As you continue down the leafy ecclesiastical enclave of the Cathedral Walk, you will pass the current Bishop’s House and Presbytery on your left, built in the same year and style as St Brendan’s Seminary. You can also discover a reminder of the ancient past, in the form of an ogham stone. This 1.4m tall sandstone bears a series of horizontal lines cutting through a vertical line. Dating back at least as far as the fifth century, this is one of the earliest forms of writing evident in Ireland and it is known as Ogham script. To read the inscription, typically you begin in the bottom left and read upwards. These stones usually bear the names of individuals, sometimes accompanied by their parentage or tribal affiliation. The inscription on this stone can be translated to Son Of Liag, Son Of Erca. Legend says that Erca was the first Bishop of this area and that he was appointed by St. Patrick himself in the fifth century.
This is not the original setting for this stone. It’s exact provenance is uncertain, though it is believed to have been originally found in the bed of a stream in the townland of Ballyeightragh on the Dingle Peninsula. It was presented to the Bishop of Kerry in the early twentieth century and moved here to the seminary, where today it stands as a testament to the remarkable ancient culture of Ireland.