Clonmacnoise - Temple Dowling Church




N 53° 19' 34.26"   W 007° 59' 09.9"

Nearest town


Grid Ref.

N 00927 30659

Map No.


Elevation a.s.l. (m)


Date of visit

Wednesday 20 June 2018

GPS Accuracy (m)

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Temple Dowling in the middle, with the sacristy of the Cathedral on the left and the South Cross on the right. Seen from the west.
The west gable has reconstructed antae and two slabs above the pointed arch doorway.

Clonmacnoise lies in a meander on the left bank of River Shannon, and it is one of the oldest early Christian settlements in Europe.

St. Ciarán along with Diarmait Uí Cerbaill founded it around 544 and he chose a central site in Ireland, at the crossroads of the main Irish river and the Esker Riada, the geological gravel and sand formation that stretches east-west across Ireland, so that the new monastery could be accessed from everywhere.
It soon became an important centre for studying religion and it attracted scholars and pupils from all over Europe, and grew into a large monastic city. It was also an important centre for craftmanship and trade.

In its best period it had up to 17 churches, but today only 7 of them survive in ruins. Along with these ruins, there are also three crosses and two round towers, one of which attached to a church.

This is a double church, with Temple Downing facing west, and Temple Hurpan adjoining the first one on the east.
Temple Dowling, sometimes referred to as Temple Doolin, is an early Christian small church, or oratory, built around the 11th century.
In the 17th century a second church was built against the east wall of the earlier one. The new church is larger and taller, and to match this new building, the east gable of Temple Dowling had to be heightened.
During the constructions of Temple Hurpan, Temple Dowling was extended to the west, probably to match the dimensions of the two churches.

The entrance to Temple Dowling is through a pointed arch doorway in the west gable, above which two plaques have been inserted in the wall. The upper one has a coat of arms, the lower one describes that the alterations were made in 1689 by a man named Edmund Dowling, from whom the church takes its name.
The west gable of this church has antae that were added during the remodeling of the building.

The entrance to Temple Hurpan is though a round-headed doorway in the south wall. The east wall has a large rectangular window.
The east window of Temple Dowling looks into Temple Hurpan, where the only thing of mention is a wheeled cross standing in the centre of the nave.

Due to the urge of seeing everything, I forgot to take photos of the inside of Temple Hurpan.

The pair of buildings is aligned to the east (85°).

We came to Clonmacnoise for the first time on July 4th, 1994, and again on May 18th, 2002.

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