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CIIC 46. Houseland/Portersgate, Co. Wexford.

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© 2016-05-12

National Monuments Service Record Number: WX054-004----

Site Type




'The early church (WX054-003002-) known as St. Brecaun’s church is situated at the edge of a low clay cliff (H c. 5m) on the E side of the low-lying and narrow part of the Hook peninsula. The graveyard was regarded as eroded away long ago by the sea (Redmond 1898, 32-3), and archaeological excavation in 1987 found [fragments of human bone but] no burials anywhere. However, evidence of an enclosing ditch feature is confirmed in a fosse (Wth c. 2m) partly excavated c. 12m WSW of the church (Breen 1988). This feature (Wth c. 3m; D c. 0.8m) can also be seen in the cliff-face c. 25m N of the church' (ASI database, www.archaeology.ie).


'Reddish, sandstone pulvinar' (three framgments, incomplete) 1.18m x 0.30m x 0.20m (converted from Macalister 1945, 50). The break between the two larger fragments 'must have been of long standing as the broken surfaces are weathered and waterworn' (Macalister 1945, 50-1).


'The inscription is cut in two lines on the rounded sides up-top-down. It is quite legible except the R, in which R5 is broken, and the following C, which is spalled away except the distal ends. Consideration of the space abailable makes it possible to restore the whole inscription (see below right)' (Macalister 1945, 51). The third fragment discovered in 1987 is too small to confirm Macalister's restoration but, with four identifiable scores and the remains of a probable fifth, it could be a Q of the suggested MAQQI.




'of Sétnae son of Cathub Uí Dercmossaig'


  • This is one of the inscriptions listed by McManus (1991, 96) in which syncope (dropping of internal vowels) begins to show itself (loss of vowel indicated by asterisk: DERC*MASOC). Therefore, it may be dated to the late sixth or early seventh century (McManus 1991, 97).

  • Although this stone is from the Hook Peninsula in Co. Wexford, the kin group name of the person commemorated (AVVI DERCMASOC) is presumably of the Dublin based Uí Dercmossaig sept (McManus 1991, 104, 111, 112).



'beneath the clay cliff under the ruins of St. Bricane's Church' (Graves and Nevin 1854, 179). Macalister (1945, 50) gave the townland as Houseland but the site is in fact in the townland of Portersgate in the barony of Shelburne. The original location of this stone may be accessed via the National Monuments Service Historic Environment viewer on www.archaeology.ie. Precise coordinates unknown. (GPS coordinates, approximate location only -6.889553, 52.151461)


Find location probably original site

Last Recorded

National Museum of Ireland (NMI Ref. 1872:19), Dublin. The present location of this stone may be accessed via the National Monuments Service Historic Environment viewer on www.archaeology.ie. (GPS coordinates -6.254558,53.340408)


The lower (and largest) fragment of the stone was discovered in 1845 by Mr Hugh Nevin of Waterford 'in the course of some geological researches on the promontory of Hook' (Graves and Nevin 1854, 179). The second fragment (most of the top) was discovered almost 100 years later 'near the church' by Rev. Thos. Cloney, P.P., Templetown, Fethard (Macalister 1930, 54). The third small fragment was recovered in the 1987 excavation (Breen 1988, 30-1).


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