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St Cronan's Church
West Gable

St Cronan's

10th Century Church

At first glance the East Clare Heritage Centre in Tuamgraney does not appear to offer a lot of interest - do not be fooled by appearances. The centre is housed in one of Ireland's most historical buildings, St Cronan's 10th century church. The western part of the church was built between 949-964 AD by the Abbot Cormac O' Killeen, and is reputed to have been repaired by the legendary High King Brian Boru. There is evidence that may support this theory as Marcan, Brian's brother, was also an Abbot at Tuamgraney. The Church stands on the site of a monastery founded by St Cronan in the 6th Century.

The original church at the site was probably made from wood. The Nave of St Cronan's church imitates the earlier wooden church by the use of antae on the western gable. There is a stunning cyclopean doorway in the western gable, pictured right. A huge lintel stone is resting on the inclining jambs. It is possible that Brian Boru may have walked through this doorway. Inside the church is a large collection of Romanesque fragments. The Chancel, or eastern part was added in the 12th century. There is a carved head on display that came from the outside wall of the eastern gable. The head displays female features and is now known locally as Gráinne. The Irish for Sun is Grían . In a folktale, Grian is a sun goddess who drowns herself in Lough Graney and is washed up and buried at Tuamgraney = Tomb of Grian. Outside the doorway is a large stone similar to the stone the monks used to wash their clothes at Ross Errilly Friary in Galway.

Doorway

Cyclopean doorway

East Gable

Eastern 12th century gable

Head

Gráinne

Situated: Very easy, located on the western side of the main road through Tuamgraney Village, next to the O'Grady Tower House.

Discovery Map 58: R 6368 8300. Last visit April 2012.

Longitude: 8° 32' 23" W

Latitude: 52° 53' 48" N

Google Map

Photos: Jim Dempsey and Deb Snelson.

Washing Stone

Washing Stone

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