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Ireland: Corcomroe Abbey

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Corcomroe Abbey | Ireland | Europe

[Visited: June 2017]

After days of fine weather, we wake up to a grey sky. It is still dry, but after a visit to Doolin Cave, and drive along the coast, the infamous Irish rain starts to fall on us, always harder. We seek refuge in a chocolate factory whose smell alone is a seller, and when we continue to explore the Burren, the rain hammers the roof of our small car. A short walk in the unique Burren whets or appetite, but also wets our clothes, so we decide to change plans and explore the crosses of Kilfenora before driving on to Corcomroe Abbey. By the time we reach Corcomroe Abbey, the rain has changed into a drizzle. The sandstone ruins of this early 13th century abbey rise high above us, and we find a surprisingly colourful cemetery just outside its walls.

Picture of Corcomroe Abbey (Ireland): Cemetery with the church of Corcomroe Abbey in the background

While the abbey has been abandoned centuries ago, the walls still stand, but the roof is gone. The floor is the last resting place for many; family tombstones lie one next to the other. A layer of water makes them shine; most have a thin layer of moss contrasting nicely with the dark colours of the stone. From the calligraphic texts on the stones, we deduce that some tombs span several centuries, and some are more recent than we had imagined for such a place with a feel of being forgotten. Apart from the tombstones, we have a look at details of this ruined building, and find finely carved details of columns at both the base and the capital and arches in the walls. The wind and rain must be slowly eating away at Corcomroe Abbey, but for the time being, the sculpted fineprint of the church are still doing well.

Picture of Corcomroe Abbey (Ireland): Sanctuary of Corcomroe Abbey with the tomb of Conor O'Brien, King of Thomond, on the left

The sanctuary of Corcomroe Abbey holds more tombs, an arched open space, and a sculpted person lying belly-up on the floor. This is the king Conor O'Brien, who ruled of Thomond, and was killed in combat during the battle of Siudáine, close to Corcomroe, in the 13th century, just after the abbey was established. The monks managed to retrieve the body and buried it here, in a tomb effigy in a vaulted space in the presbytery. When we turn around, we see across the aisle of the church, and the grey sky above. Carved crosses stick out of the floor. In the side aisles, we see more tombs and crosses. The rain has now stopped completely, but when I walk around the church to get a good view of the outside, my shoes still get wet because of the grass. It is getting dark, and time to leave and get dry.

Picture of Corcomroe Abbey (Ireland): Jezus carved in a tombstone on the floor of Corcomroe Abbey
Picture of Corcomroe Abbey (Ireland): Tombstones on the floor of Corcomroe Abbey
Picture of Corcomroe Abbey (Ireland): Tombs on the floor of an aisle in Corcomroe Abbey
Picture of Corcomroe Abbey (Ireland): Detail of decorative carving at the base of columns inside Corcomroe Abbey
Picture of Corcomroe Abbey (Ireland): Family tombstone spanning two centuries in Corcomroe Abbey
Picture of Corcomroe Abbey (Ireland): Bishop sculpted on a wall of Corcomroe Abbey
Picture of Corcomroe Abbey (Ireland): The main aisle of Corcomroe Abbey church with tombstones
Picture of Corcomroe Abbey (Ireland): Decorated capital in the Corcomroe Abbey church
Picture of Corcomroe Abbey (Ireland): Interior of roofless Corcomroe Abbey
Picture of Corcomroe Abbey (Ireland): Cemetery outside Corcomroe Abbey
Picture of Corcomroe Abbey (Ireland): Moss-covered cross with heart in Corcomroe Abbey
Picture of Corcomroe Abbey (Ireland): Detail of the wall of the church of Corcomroe Abbey with arches
Picture of Corcomroe Abbey (Ireland): Inscription near an early 19th century family tomb at the abbey

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