on friday's irish studies trip gordon took us to a bunch of old abbeys and churches around clare.
our first stop was just outside ballyvaughan, at the corcomroe cistercian monestary (mainistir chorca mrua). the cistercian monks came to ireland around 1142 and started construction on this huge abbey shortly thereafter. the graveyard is still used by a number of local families, but the church itself has clearly been out of commission for ages.
i love these carvings of flowers on the pillars. it's thought that these were depictions of healing flowers that the monks grew for use in the infirmary.
this texture is unbelievable! the mortar in corcomroe is unique, having been made out of ground seashells.
the ceilings have this impression from woven hazel branches that were used as a scaffolding, which the mortar would be formed over before being removed.
here's a grave marker for the o'loughlains, trying to claim that they're the true princes of the burren. no way - o'briens all the way!
next we went quite a bit south to kilmacduagh (cill mhic dhuach), which was founded in the 7th century by saint colman mac duach. the cathedral itself was erected in stone in the 11th century, probably replacing a former wooden structure. it was plundered extensively during the 13 century, but remained the seat of the bishop until the 16th. the coolest part, though, is that kilmacduagh still has a full intact round tower - that bastard cromwell didn't touch this one! the tower is dated from the 12th century and now leans about a meter off perpendicular. you can clearly see a ton of stress fractures in the rocks at the base on the south side of the tower, and chances are the tower won't remain standing for (relatively) too much longer. oh no!
here are the various outbuildings, including the bishop's house and another church in the background.
next was dysert o'dea (an díseart)! this monestary was originally called 'dísert-tola,' which meant 'the quiet place.' saint tola founded it in the early 8th century, but the structures surviving today weren't built until the 12th century. dysert o'dea has an original high cross, re-erected in 1683 by conor o'dea. it also showcases a nice example of romanesque style carving on the doorway, gordon says one of the best examples of such carving in ireland.
here's an image of the bishop, complete with a hollow that would have held a box containing a relic.
our final destination was just a quick stop at kilnaboy church (cill iníne baoith). one of the exterior walls has a big double cross built into the stonework, which we hadn't seen elsewhere. there were also some nice smaller carvings in the stones inside the church which were really nice. we only spent about 15 minutes poking around there (it's a pretty small place) and then it was back to good ol' ballyvaughan!