Kilmacduagh Monastic Settlement




N 53° 02' 52.1"   W 008° 53' 17.9"

Nearest town


Grid Ref.

M 40476 00021

Map No.


Elevation a.s.l. (m)


Date of visit

Tuesday 11 September 2012

GPS Accuracy (m)

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The O'Heyne's Church seen from the east.

St. Colman Mac Duach founded an early monastery at this site in the 7th century on the land that his cousin King Guaire Aidne mac Colmáin of Connacht gave him.
What we see today is one of the finest collection of ecclesiastic buildings of all Ireland.
Namely they are the O'Heyne's Church, built in the 13th century by Owen O'Heyne for the Augustinian Canons. It has a beautiful chancel arch with carvings of animals and flowers with a style of the same school of Kilfenora and Corcomroe. In the 15th century part of the nave collapsed and was replaced by a wall built inside it. The Augustinian Canons left the place in 1584.
The Cathedral was built in two times, and possibly replaced an earlier wooden church. The nave is the older part, dating from the 11th century, it had a small west doorway now blocked up. The chancel has a three-light window. The transepts were probably added in the 15th century. Inside the north transept there are some grave slabs in the folk-art style.
The church of St. John the Baptist is between the O'Heynes church and the Cathedral and is probably the oldest building of the settlement, possibly dating from the 10 century. Today only the west gable survives, all the rest is just the outline of the church.
The Glebe House is next to the church of St. John the Baptist, and among its uses there was the residence of the bishop of the diocese. The building has been recently restored, there are three floors and a timber staircase. All the rooms are empty.
Across the street from the main settlement there's the church called Temple Mary, a small church built in the 13th century with the stones from an earlier church. It's perfectly aligned east-west and its west gable is set into the dry-stone wall that runs along the road. It has a south doorway and a narrow east window that is splayed on the inner side.
But the prominent building in this settlement is the very tall round tower dating from the 12th century. It stands about 34 metres tall, and it is the tallest round tower in Ireland. It still has its conical cap, though it's not original, it was restored at the end of the 19th century. Since the surrounding land is plain, this tower can be seen from a very long distance. The tower has a doorway on the northeast (45°) side at 6.35 metres from the ground. It has several windows, mostly of them towards the top. The tower leans to the south by at least 3°.

The buildings are locked, but the keys can be obtained from the lady in the house across the road.

The first time we came here was on May 13th, 2000, and the weather was just as cold and bad as this time. The difference is that this time we were alone, twelve years ago we ended up among a busload of tourists.

UPDATE: June 9th, 2014 - A new short visit to the settlement to take some photos of Temple Mary. The weather was dull this time as well.

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