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When
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Oughtmama West Churches Church
 

County

Clare

Coordinates

N 53° 07' 00.78"   W 009° 02' 17.82"

Nearest town

Ballyvaughan

Grid Ref.

M 30494 07873

Map No.

51

Elevation a.s.l. (m)

77

Date of visit

Wednesday 12 June 2019

GPS Accuracy (m)

3
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The two churches seen from the northeast. The one on the right, the west one, is the larger of the two.


Oughtmama was an important monastic site in the early Middle Ages, and according to the tradition it also had a bishop, but its importance dropped when the nearby Corcomroe Abbey was built in about 1200.

The name Oughtmama comes from the Irish Ucht Máma meaning Breast of the Mountain Pass, after the mountain to the northeast with the same name and that looks like a woman's breast.
The monastic site was originally located within a rather elliptical enclosure, and had three churches and a mill, with huts and small houses outside to the east of the enclosure.

The two churches featured in this page are to the west of the monastic site, and they likely date to the 12th century. They were enclosed within an inner enclosure.

The larger of the two churches is to the west. It was originally built as a single nave church, probably as an oratory, but it was later enlarged by adding a chancel and a chancel arch between the two sections. The chancel arch is still in place and intact. The east (85°) section is narrower than the rest of the building. The entrance is through a lintelled doorway in the west wall. Inside the church, in the southwest corner, there's a wonderful font with the carving of two animals with their necks intertwined. There are two windows in the south wall of the nave, one is pointed arch, the other one is framed within a rectangular recess. Both window are splayed.
There are traces of an altar under the east wall, but this wall is so ruined that no east window is visible. There's the hint of a south splayed window in the south wall of the chancel. Next to this window there's another small font.
This church has corbels on all four corners at the roof level, like Reefert church at Glendalough.

The other church is smaller than the west one, and is a single nave church. It doesn't have any detail worthy of mention. It is aligned to the east (95°). The east window is narrow and arched within a wide splay. Next to it in the east wall are two recesses for storing the sacred vessels during the mass. There's another small window in the southeast corner. There's no altar within this church. The entrance is through an arched doorway in the west wall.


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