Fodor's Expert Review Holy Island
The 6th-century monastic settlement of Holy Island (Inis Cealtra in Irish) sits in the middle of Lough Derg, slightly closer to the western shore. Around the year AD 520, St. Columba, seeking the type of solitude only an island can offer, founded his small monastery here. It was later expanded into a serious seat of Christian learning. The Vikings arrived in 836 and killed many of the monks before making off with most of their treasures, but the monastery survived in different forms until the Reformation. The ruins on the island include a Round Tower, St. Caimin's Romanesque church, and the Saints' Graveyard, which includes 11th-century grave markers in Irish, and one headstone for Cosrach, "the miserable one," who died in 898. Access to the island is via boats that leave from Mountshannon, on the western side of the lake.