Kilmacduagh Monastery

Aerial view of Kilmacduagh Monastery and the landscape of the borderlands between County Clare and County Galway

Aerial view of Kilmacduagh Monastery • Galway

Monastic Borderlands

Kilmacduagh Round Tower

The Round Tower • Kilmacduagh

Dissolution and Decline

Kilmacduagh Round Tower

The Round Tower • Kilmacduagh

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Kilmacduagh Cathedral, or Teampuil Mór, was built in the 11th or 12th century, though its current form reflects the 14th or 15th century alterations. The blocked-up early linteled doorway can still be made out in the west gable. Inside you will find a mixture of Hiberno-Romanesque, Gothic and later styles. The 14th century north transept is known as the O’Shaughnessy Chapel and contains memorials to members of that family dating from the 16th to the 18th centuries.

Medieval sculpture at Kilmacduagh

Sculpture above the doorway of the Cathedral • Kilmacduagh

In the field to the south is what looks like a small square enclosure. This is Templebeg MacDuagh, ‘the small church of MacDuagh’. A gable wall still stands that indicates that this was once a small church or oratory. It may have been a shrine chapel dedicated to St Colmán, though his grave is in the graveyard to the east of the cathedral.

Across the road from the graveyard is Templemurry, also known as the Lady’s Church. This is a plain 13th century church that is believed to have been built using blocks from an earlier church. The Augustinian abbey, founded by the O’Heyne’s, was called the Abbey of St Mary de Petra.

In the field to the north of the graveyard there is a small, plain, nave and chancel church dedicated to St John the Baptist. The nave is though to belong to the 10th century, with the small chancel being added some time later. North of this is a large building known as the Abbot’s House or Glebe House. This dates to the 14th century and is thought to have been the Bishop’s residence as well as a seminary for the education of priests. It was later fortified with the addition of a guard tower, loopholes and a murder hole. It has been restored and the upper stories are accessible to visitors.

If you walk a little up the road from the graveyard and turn to the left, you will arrive at O’Heyne’s Church. This was built in the late 12th or early 13th century. And may the the focus of the Augustinian abbey. The twin-light east window and other carved features you will find here are examples of the ‘School of the West’, a group of stone carvers working in the west of Ireland between about 1180 and 1228 whose work is a fusion of the newly introduced Cistercian architecture and local Hiberno-Romanesque style. At some point the north wall of the church collapsed and was replaced with a new wall inside the building. The original wall remains can still be seen.

Upper left: Church of St John the Baptist with the Abbot’s house in the background • Lower left: the Abbot’s House • Right: aerial view of Kilmacduagh

Top: Church of St John the Baptist with the Abbot’s house in the background • Middle: aerial view of Kilmacduagh • Bottom: the Abbot’s House