Corcomroe Abbey

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Corcomroe Abbey
Native name Mainistir Chorco Modhruadh
Corcomroe Abbey South East View 1996 08 22.jpg
Corcomroe Abbey as viewed from the southeast
Location County Clare, Ireland
Coordinates 53°07′36″N 9°03′14″W / 53.126703°N 9.054014°W / 53.126703; -9.054014Coordinates: 53°07′36″N 9°03′14″W / 53.126703°N 9.054014°W / 53.126703; -9.054014
Built c. 1205-1211
Architect Donal Mór Ua Briain
Reference no. 11[1]
Corcomroe Abbey is located in Ireland
Corcomroe Abbey
Location of Corcomroe Abbey in Ireland

Corcomroe Abbey (Irish: Mainistir Chorco Modhruadh) is an early 13th-century Cistercian monastery located in the north of the Burren region of County Clare, Ireland, a few miles east of the village of Ballyvaughan in the Barony of Burren. It was once known as "St. Mary of the Fertile Rock", a reference to the Burren's fertile soil.

The abbey is noted for its detailed carvings and other rich ornamentation, which are not commonly found in structures from this period. It features a typical cruciform church facing east, with a small chapel in each transept.[2]


The interior of Corcomroe Abbey, looking east through the choir and into the presbytery.

Construction on the abbey most likely began sometime between 1205 and 1210 and used local limestone.[2] Legend maintains that the building was commissioned by King Conor na Siudane Ua Briain, who died in 1267 and whose tomb niche and effigy are visible in the north wall of the choir. According to the legend, Ua Briain executed the five masons who completed the abbey to prevent them from constructing a rival masterpiece elsewhere.[3] In reality, it was probably built by Conor's grandfather, Donal Mór Ua Briain (Donald O'Brien), the patron of a number of other religious structures in the historic Thomond region.

The English Reformation led to the dissolution of Catholic monasteries in England and Ireland. In 1554, the abbey was granted to the Earl of Thomond. The monks continued to tend the fields and maintain the abbey as circumstances allowed, but the political climate led to continued decline. The last abbot, the Reverend John O'Dea, was named in 1628.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ National Monuments in County Clare
  2. ^ a b Nelson, E. Charles & Stalley, Roger A.; Stalley, Roger A (1989). "Medieval Naturalism and the Botanical Carvings at Corcomroe Abbey (County Clare)". Gesta (Gesta, Vol. 28, No. 2) 28 (2): 165–174. doi:10.2307/767066. JSTOR 767066. 
  3. ^ Westropp, Thos. J. (1912). "A Folklore Survey of County Clare". Folklore 23 (2): 204–215. doi:10.1080/0015587x.1912.9719522. 

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