Aghadoe in Irish it is called Achadh Deo meaning "the field of two yews" and is pronounced “A-had-oe” by the locals. Officially it is a parish, although the parish is larger than the area normally associated with the name. The area is one of Killarney’s most important sites in terms of appreciating Killarney’s rich built heritage and its serene landscapes.
Aghadoe is possibly Killarney’s most romantic vista. The viewing point on the hill of Aghadoe is located at the northern end of the Killarney Valley, overlooking Killarney Town on the left.
It provides panoramic views across to MacGillycuddy Reeks forming a perfect backdrop stretching from the twin hills in the Southeast, known as the paps, to awesome Carrantuohill in the Southwest. In-front are glistening lakes and mysterious islands, including Innisfallen Island.
Innisfallen or Inishfallen known in Irish as Inis Faithlinn, meaning "Faithlinn's island" is an island in Lough Leane; one of the three Lakes of Killarney. It is home to the ruins of Innisfallen Abbey, one of the most impressive archaeological remains dating from the early Christian period found in the Killarney National Park.
The monastery was founded in 640 by a native Saint, Saint Finian the Leper, and was occupied for approximately 850 years. Over a period of about 300 of these, the monks wrote the Annals of Innisfallen, which chronicle the early history of Ireland as it was known to the monks. The monks were dispossessed of the abbey on August 18, 1594, by Elizabeth I.
The location of the monastery on the island is thought to have given rise to the name Lough Leane “Loch Léin” which in English means "Lake of Learning". It was here that one of the greatest of Ireland`s kings was educated - Brian Boru, who destroyed the power of the Danes at Clontarf in 1014, while his distinguished professor, Maelsuthain O'Carroll, was most probably the original compiler of the famous Annals of Innisfallen.
On the eastern side of the Aghadoe Viewing point are the extensive 11th century ruins of Aghadoe Cathedral and Round Tower. Between the viewing point and Aghadoe Graveyard, you will find the ruins of the 13th century Parkavonear Norman Castle, one of the few circular tower castles built by the Normans in the southwest.
Both the monastic ruins of Aghadoe and Inisfallen occupy sites of much earlier 7th century monasteries. Also on the shore of Lough Lein is a very clear view of the restored Gaelic Ross Castle and immediately underneath the viewing point are situated the 3 wonderful courses that make up the world famous Killarney Golf & Fishing Club.
Other must see places around Aghadoe are the ruins of 13th century Parkavonear Castle and an old Romanesque church in ruins, make the spot popular with tourists and archaeologists.
The druids tended to have their places of worship in stone circles in sacred groves on tops of prominent hills. Later Christian churches were often built on the druidical sites. It is probable that the Aghadoe church was built on an ancient druidical site.
There are many examples of the Celtic Cross in the cemetery. The Celtic Cross is believed to be a combination of the druidical symbol, the circle and the Christian symbol, the cross.
The church finished at Aghadoe in 1158 was dedicated to the Holy Trinity and St. Mary. It has a Hiberno-Romanesque west doorway with a three-order arch (i.e. three semi-circular sets of inlaid stones), the innermost order plain and the two outer ones bearing Romanesque decoration.
The arch is an 11th century Irish version of the Roman arch. The Roman arch was semi-circular in shape. The Goths later introduced the Gothic arch to Europe. The Gothic arch is pointed and was an improvement on the Roman arch.
On top of the south wall of the church is an Ogham stone bearing the inscription BRRUANANN. Ogham writing had its heyday from the 3rd to the 6th centuries when it was largely superseded by the Roman alphabet.
Also secured to the wall is a sculpture of the crucifixion. Outside the doorway of the church stands a large bullaun stone (bowl-stone) with a single centrally-placed hollow. A bullaun is a large flat stone with a central hollow. It is not certain what they were used for but the most probable explanation is that they were used for holding holy water.
Close to Aghadoe church is the lower portion of a round tower. It is referred to locally as the "the bishops chair". The tower is the remnant of a bell tower and dates from 1026.
There is a well-known lyric "Aghadoe"by John Todhunter (1900). It is usually stated that it depicts events that occurred in Aghadoe in Co. Cork in a "mopping up" operation following the 1798 Rising. However, the allusions to a "mountain", a "glen" and a burial place lend credence to the view that the events occurred in Aghadoe in Co. Kerry.
A young man that joined in the 1798 Rebellion and escaped from the government's mopping-up operation and hid with the help of his lover in Aghadoe was finally arrested due to her son's treachery and was beheaded and now sleeps like an Irish King in Aghadoe. Although this ballad appears to be a tragic love song, its real motive is not private and emotional, but public and political in that it allegorically expresses love of Ireland and the hatred for England.
There's a glen
in Aghadoe, Aghadoe, Aghadoe
There's a deep and secret glen in Aghadoe
Where we met my love and I, love's fair planet in the sky
In that deep and silent glen in Aghadoe
There's a glade in Aghadoe, Aghadoe, Aghadoe
There's a deep and secret glade in Aghadoe
Where I hid from the eyes of the redcoats and their spies
That year the trouble came to Aghadoe
But they tracked me to that glen in Aghadoe, Aghadoe
When the price was on his head in Aghadoe
O'er the mountain through the wood as I stole to him with food
But the bullets found his heart in Aghadoe
I walked from Mallow town to Aghadoe, Aghadoe
I took his head from the jail gate to Aghadoe
There I covered him with fern and I piled on him the cairn
Like an Irish king he sleeps in Aghadoe