Clones Abbey

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Clones Abbey
Native name Mainistir Cluain Eois
Clones Abbey is located in Ireland
Clones Abbey
Location of Clones Abbey in Ireland
Location County Monaghan, Ireland
Coordinates 54°10′59″N 7°14′01″W / 54.183°N 7.2337°W / 54.183; -7.2337Coordinates: 54°10′59″N 7°14′01″W / 54.183°N 7.2337°W / 54.183; -7.2337
Area Clones
Built 12th century
Official name: Clones Abbey, Clones Church, Clones Round Tower
Reference no. 111 & 112
This drawing from c. 1587 shows the church of the Augustinian abbey, labelled a churche, still standing with its tower and choir at the site of the graveyard, east of the round tower and west of the surviving ruin of the small Romanesque church.[1]

Clones Abbey is a ruined monastery that later became an Augustinian abbey in the twelfth century, and its main sights are ecclesiastical. The Abbey was formerly known as St. Tighernach Abbey, and was referred to locally as the "wee abbey". Parochial and monastic settlements were separated, and it seems likely that the building became the Abbey of St. Peter and Paul.


Clones Round Tower

The Town of Clones and the Abbey was founded by St. Tigernach (anglicised St. Tierney) in the 6th century. St. Tigernach or Tierney's abbey was dedicated to St. Peter and St. Paul. The abbey was destroyed by fire in 836, 1095, and in 1184. In 1207, Hugh de Lacy destroyed the abbey and town; but five years after they were rebuilt by the English, who also erected a castle here. The ruins of a 12th-century abbey can be found on Abbey Street, along with a sarcophagus with worn animal-head carvings reputed to have been built to house the remains of St. Tigernach, and a 9th-century truncated 22m-high round tower,which was originally about 90 ft high and had a conical cap. and a well-preserved 10th-century high cross on the Diamond, decorated with drama-charged biblical stories such as Daniel in the lion's den, Abrahams sacrifice of Isaac, Adam and the tree and the serpent. On the reverse side, new testament scenes are illustrated. The multiplication of the loaves, the miracle at Cana, the baptism of Christ.

The Protestant reformation lead to the suppression of the monasteries by Henry VIII in the 16th century, and the monastic settlement in Clones was destroyed. By the 17th century the abbey was a ruin, but solitary monks continued to live in the locality up until the 18th century. An English garrison was later established within the ruins.[2] [3][4]


The church is Romanesque in style and is evidence of the Roman church in Clones. The round-headed window is interesting, the head of which was cut out of a single stone. On the northern wall there is a small Celtic cross sculptured in relief on a stone.[2] [3]

See also[edit]

List of abbeys and priories in Ireland

Abbot of Clones[edit]

The Abbot was the Primus Abbas, or first mitred abbot of Ireland.

List of Notable Coarbs & Abbots[edit]

Note: From 1398 to 1435 we have an instance of the clash that frequently occurred between the papal provisor and the bishops nominee.

List of Notable Coarbs & Abbots.[5][6]
From Until Incumbent Notes
unknown 549 Tigernach mac Coirpri [B] founder of the abbey; died in office 549
unknown 806 Gormgal mac Dindnotaig of the Uí Chremthainn, called abbot of Armagh and Clones in the entry for his obit in the annals[7]
unknown 929 Ceanfoile Died in office inside the abbey
unknown unknown Gilla Christ O'Macturan in 1184, was elected Bishop of Clogher
unknown 1247 Hugh Mac Conchaille abbot of Clones died[8]
unknown 1257 Mac Robias abbot of Clones died[9]
1316 1319 Gelasius alias Cornelius Ó Bánáin Elected Bishop-designate of Clogher and consecrated circa 1316; died 1319
unknown 1353 Sean ó Cairbre John O Carbry

died in office. His name appears on the outer shrine of Domnach Airgid as coarb

unknown 1365 Sean Mac An Eanaigh John MacAneany

received collation of the comorbania or rectory of Clones from primate Milo Sweetman's commissaries in the diocese of Clogher, this appointment was subsequently ratified by the primate himself.[10]

1393 1398 Tiernacus Mac An Eanaigh Tierney MacAneany

was appointed to the rectory by the Bishop of Kilmore and bishop of clogher, but in 1398 the Pope claimed he held the position unlawfully.[10]

1393 (John ó Goband) Appointed by the Pope. Did not take effect, later became Dean of Armagh in the same year[11]
1403 (Pádraig Mac Cathmhaoil) Patrick Mac Cawell

Appointed by the Pope. Did not take effect

unknown 1413 Éinrí mac Conullag Mac Mathghamhna Henry MacMahon son of Connolly

appears to have been coarb but Eneas ó Cairbre detained the rectory from him having obtained it from the ordinary.

1413 unknown Neameas O'Hanratty A canon of Clogher, should have been collated to the rectoy then vacated by the death of Henry MacMahon. He was rehabilitated in 1417 by Martin V and received a fresh appointment from Eugenius IV, In primate John Mey's (Archbishop of Armagh) register he is alluded to as coarb in 1438.
unknown 1435 Eoin ó Cairbre died in office[12]
1477 1486 Pilib mac Séamus Mac Mathghamhna Philip MacMahon son of James

A canon chorister of Clogher, and parson of Dartry he was bound for the annates of the rectory in 1477.[13] He was related to the Kings of Oriel.[5][10][14][15][16]

1491 1502 Séamus mac Ruaidhri Mac Mathghamhna James MacMahon son of Rory

A canon of Clogher, who bound himself for the annates in 1491. He was related to the Kings of Oriel. The editor of the Annals of Ulster regards him as being representative of the lay succession of coarbs. This is an unfortunate illustration, for he was certainly a cleric. In 1492 he, the rector of St. Tighernach's, bound himself for the annates of the archdeaconry of Armagh; and in 1502, the year of his death, he, coarb of Clones, was acting as commissary for primate. He was 90 years old when he died.[17][18]

c.1502 1504 Giolla Pádraig Ó Connálaigh son of Henry Ua Connalaigh. The abbot of Clones was appointed Bishop-designate of Clogher, 6 March 1504; died before December 1504; also known as Patricius
unknown 1536 Maghnus Mac Mathghamhna died in office,[19]


  1. ^ Shirley, Evelyn Philip (1879). The History of the County of Monaghan. London: Pickering. p. 173. 
  2. ^ a b CLONES. LibraryIreland. Retrieved on 22 March 2010.
  3. ^ a b [1] Clones trail brochure
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b
  6. ^ [2] The Coarb in the Medieval Irish Church. (Circa 1200–1550) by St. John D. Seymour Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy. Section C: Archaeology, Celtic Studies, History, Linguistics, Literature, Vol. 41, (1932–1934), pp. 219–231 Published by: Royal Irish Academy
  7. ^ Annals of Ulster and Annals of Inisfallen s.a. 806; A New History of Ireland, ed. D. Ó Cróinín, pp. 318, 659; see further McCone, "Clones and her neighbours in the early period"
  8. ^ Part 8 of Annals of the Four Masters
  9. ^ Part 9 of Annals of the Four Masters
  10. ^ a b c Jstor The Coarb in the Medieval Irish Church. (Circa 1200–1550) by St. John D. Seymour, Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy. Section C: Archaeology, Celtic Studies, History, Linguistics, Literature, Vol. 41, (1932–1934), pp. 221–222 Published by: Royal Irish Academy
  11. ^
  12. ^ [3] the fermanagh story by Peader Livingstone
  13. ^ [4] The Annals of Ulster (Author: [unknown]) p. 311
  14. ^ [5] Annals of the Four Masters note: Rudhraighe mac Ardghail Moir Mheg Mathgamhna tighearna Oirghiall do écc. & a mhac Aedh Ruadh mac Rudhraighe do oirdneadh ina ionad la h-Ua Néill.
  15. ^ [6] Annals of the Four Masters (Author: [unknown]) note:Philip, son of the Coarb (i.e. James, son of Rury, son of Ardgal) Mac Mahon, a canon chorister at Clogher, Coarb of Clones, Parson of Dartry, &c., died.
  16. ^ [Stable URL:] Clogherici A Dictionary of the Catholic Clergy of the Diocese of Clogher (1535–1835) (Continued) by Rev. Padraig Ó Gallachair, Clogher Record, Vol. 2, No. 1 (1957), pp. 170–191, Published by: Clogher Historical Society
  17. ^ [7] The Coarb in the Medieval Irish Church. (Circa 1200–1550) by St. John D. Seymour, Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy. Section C: Archaeology, Celtic Studies, History, Linguistics, Literature, Vol. 41, (1932–1934), pp. 219–231 Published by: Royal Irish Academy
  18. ^ [8] Annuals of the 4 masters
  19. ^ Annals of Ulster page 606-year 1536


Further reading[edit]

  • McCone, Kim (1984). "Clones and her neighbours in the early period: hints from some Airgialla saints' Lives". Clogher Record. 11: 305–25.