The ruins of the ancient Church of Dysartgallen and its attractive graveyard setting are situated in the townland of Aughnacross, from the Irish “Áth na Croise”, which translates as “Ford of the Cross”. The church stands near the southern bank of the Owenbeg River, some 3kms northeast of the village of Ballinakill. The name Dysartgallen is an Anglicisation of the Irish name Díseart Gailine, which translates as the ‘hermitage or wilderness of Galin’, which is located in the civil parish of Dysartgallen, and the barony of Cullenagh.
Sloping down towards the Owenbeg River, the land is fertile with a band of mature oak forest running along the northern bank of the Owenbeg. To the south the land rises considerably to form Coopers Hill, part of the Cullenagh mountain range, which marks the county boundary between Laois and Kilkenny.
In 2020, a conservation report was commissioned by the Spink Community Development Association in conjunction with Laois Heritage Society to assess the current condition and make recommendations for any necessary repairs to the church. The plan was funded by Community Monuments Fund, an initiative of the National Monuments Service of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage in partnership with Laois County Council. The report was prepared by Howley Hayes Architects in association with Colm Flynn Archaeology; Dr Fiona MacGowan, consulting ecologist and botanist; and Lisa Edden of CORA, structural engineers. The surveys and enabling works on which this report is based were carried out in October and November 2020.
Dysartgallen is part of the Just Transition-funded Conservation and Pollination project and conservation works recommended in the Conservation Plan will be undertaken in 2022.