Slane Castle hermitage opens to public for Heritage Week

Posted on 12th July 2023

One of the little-known treasures we have here at Slane Castle Estate is the ancient St. Erc’s Hermitage and now you can see these ancient ruins for yourself. We’re running special guided tours of the Hermitage by the River Boyne during Heritage Week – Saturday the 12th to Thursday 17th and on Sunday 20th of August. You’ll get a fascinating insight into a historical figure who is barely known today but was an important figure in Slane at the time of St. Patrick.

St. Erc’s Hermitage was originally a wooden structure built by the saint in the fifth century and has been lived in and rebuilt by many hermits since then. The present stone ruins date to the end of the fifteenth century and consist of a nave and a chancel with a tower between them. After years of neglect, they were in a hazardous condition. Over the last couple of years, the Hermitage has undergone conservation works supported by the Community Monuments Fund (CMF) from the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage. This included archaeological recording as well as conducting conservation works based on extensive reports.

Previously a pagan druid, 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 by all accounts a wise popular bishop. St. Patrick is believed to have said of him, “Everything he judged was just. Everyone that passes a just judgment 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. It is thought that he is buried on the Hill of Slane where he established a monastery.

The guided tours of St. Erc’s Hermitage take place at 1 pm. Each tour lasts about 75 minutes and the going is rough and may be muddy so make sure you wear walking shoes and bring that rain jacket. We’re sorry but due to the terrain and amount of walking, we can’t accommodate guests with mobility issues.

  • Click here to book a tour Monday 14th to Thursday 17th August
  • Click here to book a tour on Sunday, 20th August
  • You can add on a castle tour on the day at reception on checking in.

Your tour must be booked in advance and the tours are likely to be booked out quickly. The Hermitage is only open to the public during guided tours.