Corcomroe Church




N 53° 07' 36.72"   W 009° 03' 15.72"

Nearest town


Grid Ref.

M 29434 09001

Map No.


Elevation a.s.l. (m)


Date of visit

Wednesday 12 June 2019

GPS Accuracy (m)

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The ruins seen from a distance from the southeast.

This wonderful Cistercian abbey was founded by Donal Mór Ua Briain between 1180 and 1200. The construction of the abbey used limestone from the surrounding Burren area.
It's also known with the name of St. Maria de Petra Fertilis, Latin for St. Mary of Fertile Stone.

The church has a typical cruciform plan, with a chancel to the east (90°), the only section of the church still retaining its roof, two side chapels, a long nave to the west, and the remains of a central tower. The nave also had two aisles, but only the south one survives. To the south there's also the small cloister.

The most interesting section of the building is undoubtedly the chancel. The ceiling is wonderfully ribbed, with elegant columns and capitals, and carvings of animal and human figures, and floral and abstract motifs.
In an arched recess in the north wall of the chancel is the tomb with the effigy of Conor na Siudane Ua Briain, the grandson of the founder of the abbey, King of Thomond, great benefactor of the abbey, who died in 1268 during a battle against Conor Carrach O'Loughlin. The effigy was vandalized in the 19th century. The more visible damages are to the chin and nose, the left arm and the right hand of the effigy. Above the recess, in the wall, is another effigy, an ecclesiastical figure, a bishop in the act of blessing. It is said to be St. Patrick.
Next to the recess with the effigy there are two pointed arch recesses that should be sedilia.
The chancel has three Gothic windows with an additional smaller window above them.
The doorway in the west wall is a pointed arch, and it's surmounted by two tall round headed windows.
Between the chancel and the nave there's a pointed arch doorway with massive jambs.
South of the church, outside the south transept, there are the remains of a domestic building. The west and north walls of the walkway of the cloister survive. The garth of the cloister has now been turned into a plot of the graveyard with several modern burials.

The floor of the church is almost totally paved with old grave slabs, some as old as 1680's.

The outside walls of the church have a stone moulding running all around the building. In the two east corners of the building two monsters grab and bite this moulding.

At the end of my visit I spotted the nestling of a crow wandering among the grave slabs south of the church. In that moment a bus of tourists arrived and they started swarming around, so I had to put the little bird in a safe place outside the enclosing wall.

We came here for the first time on December 8th, 1995, and again on May 12th, 2002.

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