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Clontuskert Friary Church
 

County

Galway

Coordinates

N 53° 16' 57.5"   W 008° 12' 57.3"

Nearest town

Ballinasloe

Grid Ref.

M 85649 25807

Map No.

47

Elevation a.s.l. (m)

46

Date of visit

Monday 10 September 2012

GPS Accuracy (m)

3
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The friary seen from the southwest.


What an amazing place this is! The west doorway is the best part of the whole building. Above the doorway there's a beautifully carved panel with the images of four saints, St. Michael, St. John, St. Catherine and St. Laurence.
St. Michael holds a scale to weigh the souls, a devil pulls one pan in order to get advantage on his side. Between the feet of St. John there's the head of an animal that looks like a dog. The panel with the four saints is flanked by two finials with an angel at the top of each of them and a series of decorations that might be ribbons. Another finial in the shape of a tree separates the first two saints from the other two. An inscription runs above the carved panel. Two other angels holding shields are at the bottom corners of the panel.
On both sides of the doorway there are more beautiful carvings. On the left-hand side there are a marigold, two imaginary beasts facing each other and
a pelican feeding its nestling. On the right-hand side there are a knot made by a cross and a snake, a six-point star, a mermaid holding a comb and a star with two fishes on her side and a cross, two intertwined beasts and a last panel with two other undefined beasts.
At the entrance of the church there's a holy water font with the carvings of St. Catherine and St. Laurence.
Midway between the nave and the chancel there's a rood screen with vaulted ceilings and a south window. At the centre of each vault there's a rosette.
Each capital of the arcade has other nice decorations.
The chancel has a beautiful traceried five-light window and it's aligned to the east (80°). In a niche on the south wall of the chancel there's a tomb with a canopy decorated with three finials, but one is missing, and two carved heads at both ends of the canopy. On the left of this tomb there are two semi-circular sedilia. On the right there's a burial marking for a man named Brian Kelly who died on May 20th, 1646, that is 366 years before our visit.
Other nice grave slabs of the same period are on the north and west walls of the chancel. In the north wall of the nave there's a large archway that leads to the north transept with a three-light window. In the south wall of the nave there's a small doorway that leads to the cloister. The doorway has a decoration of an angel on the right jamb. The cloister is mostly in ruins and only the north side and half of the east side survive. The central pillar of the north side of the cloister has a carved human head on the north side of the capital, and a carved head of an animal that could be a dog on the south side of its base. To the east of the cloister there are two buildings that could have been the kitchen and the refectory. In one of them there's a oven, the place where the meals were cooked.


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