Traveling from Tuam to Galway City we came upon the impressive remains of Claregalway Abbey. Built on the banks of the River Clare in the mid 13th century by John de Cogan, an Anglo-Norman Knight, the abbey now lies in ruins. The church consists of a nave, choir and a north aisle and transept. The north aisle has four bays, of which only the arcading remains, see image bottom left. Sadly the west wall of the church is also missing. In the image below, you can see the cloister garth but nothing remains of the arcade.

There are lots of interesting features remaining, including three tomb niches and a piscina in the south wall. There is another tomb niche in the north wall. In the south wall of the chancel is a triple sedilia. Probably the most striking feature is the elegant, 24 metre tall, bell tower that was added during the 15th century. The three storey tower has a wonderful vault with masks at the corners and a larger mask at the centre. In the image below you can see two gargoyles sticking out from the sides of the tower..

Possession of the abbey was granted to Sir Richard de Burgo, who built the nearby Claregalway castle, in 1570. In 1589 the English Provincial Governor Sir Richard Bingham turned the Abbey into a Barracks. By c.1640 the Franciscans had reoccupied the Friary but their numbers declined until around the mid-19th century.


Cloister garth

Situated: Very easy, located on the banks of the river Clare in Claregalway town, opposite the castle.

Discovery Map 46: M 3714 3338. Last visit April 2012

Longitude: 8° 56' 38" W

Latitude: 53° 20' 49" N

Google Map

Photos: Jim Dempsey and Deb Snelson.

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