Conservation of St Erc’s Hermitage on the Slane Castle Estate

Posted on 6th October 2022

Slane and its environs are rich in early Christian heritage and Slane Castle Estate conceals treasures within its 1500 acres. One of these is St. Erc’s Hermitage which is currently undergoing conservation works. We are grateful for the support of the Community Monuments Fund (CMF) from the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.

St. Erc was ordained as bishop by St. Patrick and the Christian mission of Slane was entrusted to him. He made a significant impact in his day and was a wise popular bishop. St. Patrick is believed to have said of him, “Everything he judged was just. Everyone that passes a just judgement shall receive the blessing of Bishop Erc.” Praise indeed from our national saint. St. Erc’s feast day is the 2nd of November, the date of his death in 514 at a very respectable 90 years of age.

After a lifetime of service, St. Erc retired to this small hermitage on the banks of the Boyne, living there for his remaining years. It was originally a wooden structure and has been lived in and rebuilt by many hermits since then. The present stone ruins in date to the end of the fifteenth century and are in urgent need of conservation.

Work of this nature is both delicate and time consuming and 2022 is the second year of conservation works. The first step was to conduct the necessary professional surveys and reports. After an initial overall clearance last autumn, emergency and enabling works followed including removing trees from the top of the masonry wall and emergency propping this summer. The expert team are still undertaking archaeological recording and backfilling old trenches.

The team consists of: Hanley Taite Design Partnership (architects and coordinators of the works), MESH architects (Grade 1 Conservation Architects), CORA (structural engineers), Ed O’Donovan (archaeologist), Bat Eco Services, TreeworX , Allan Coyle and John Fitzpatrick. The ecological assessment was done by Enviroguide, a topographical survey by Datum Surveys and a 3D scan by Marson Consulting Engineers.

St. Erc’s Hermitage is not currently open to the public as it in a hazardous condition. We hope that after conservation we will be able to welcome visitors to this lovely historic building.

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