Historical Adfert Cathedral and its complex of churches is connected to a monastery founded on the site by St. Brendan the Navigator in the sixth century.
St. Brendan is a popular and interesting figure among the Irish saints of the Roman Catholic Church who maintains a very dedicated following even to this day. Born in the area near Ardfert Cathedral, he was a great scholar who founded many monestaries. Brendan became known as the Navigator because of his adventurous journeys. One manuscript from 1050, called Navagatio Sanct Brendani has survived in several languages ---Norse, French, and Flemish among them. It tells the story of St. Brendan’s travels to Wales, Iceland, and then, as many believe, on to North America.
If some modern explorers are correct, St. Brendan landed on North American shores about 900 years before Columbus made his journey. St. Brendan is believed to have been buried at Clonfert Cathedral in County Galway, and there are numerous heritage sites around the country dedicated to the saint and his voyages. Here at Ardfert Cathedral, the main building dates back to the 12th century. Much of it is in ruined condition, although restoration projects are underway. The cathedral’s attractive Romanesque doorway is intact, along with the south transept where exhibits featuring items of religious historical significance.
Ardfert Cathedral’s east window is also remarkable, with two 14th century ecclesiastical figures standing watch on each side, as well as the row of nine lancets upon the south wall. The remains of two other churches stand on the same property. One was a Romanesque chancel church named Teampall na Hoe, and the other a Gothic chapel called Teampall na Griffin, which derives its name from the interesting creatures carved on its interior.