St Cronan, Temple Cronan

Feature Sets (3)

Description

A small roofless oratory approx. 6.65 m x 3.91 m (Westropp), with gables and side walls intact. The lower walls contain large limestone blocks; the quoins are rounded at the angle and some have a slight arris roll. A number of heads and corbels are set into the walls. The original W doorway is blocked with rubble masonry, and a later medieval doorway is inserted into the N wall. Romanesque sculpture is found on the W doorway to the nave, in the E gable window, on a head set above the N doorway, and on various corbels. There is also a plain font. Near the oratory are two house-shaped shrines or tombs, constructed of stone slabs.

History

Founded by St. Cronan (of Roscrea or Tuamgraney?)

Features

Exterior Features

Doorways

W doorway, nave (blocked)

Plain inclined jambs and lintel. Beast heads flank the jambs at top.

N jamb, W face: beast head on n. side of second jamb stone from top, thus evidently part of original doorway. Badly weathered.

S jamb, W face: beast head in similar position at S side of jamb, but on a separate stone set outside the second jamb stone from top, and projecting more than the head on N jamb. The jaws are open to reveal tongue and teeth. The head has a flat top and appears to have been designed as a corbel.

Windows

E gable

Exterior

A small plain round-headed light.

Interior

The window has a wide splayed reveal with inclined jambs topped by a lintel. The lower courses of the jambs have angle rolls and a vertical row of pellets on the W face (visible on S jamb, damaged on N jamb). The upper courses of the jambs, built of rubble, and the lintel are probably of later medieval date.

Exterior Decoration

Corbel tables, corbels

E wall

SE angle, at top: corbel with hollow chamfer on the underside bearing an inverted mask in low relief, with a lyre-shaped snout formed of spirals.

NE angle, at top: damaged corbel.

N wall

Above the later medieval doorway: human head, with traces of a curly beard. Probably not in its original location. The doorway has a pointed arch and probably dates from the 15thc.

S wall

Centre, at top: beast head corbel, with flat top and bulging eyes under arched eyebrows.

W wall

SW angle, at top: corbel with hollow chamfered underside, with an inverted dog-like mask in low relief. The sculpture appears to be unfinished.

Towards the R side of the facade: corbel with human head. Situated below the gable and approx. 2.4m from the ground. Gable, toward top: corbel with human head.

NW angle, at top: damaged corbel with plain, hollow-chamfered underside.

Dimensions
All corbels
d. projection from wall 0.20 m
h. 0.24 m approx.
w. 0.19 m

Furnishings

Fonts

Round stoup with shallow bowl, undecorated, broken, lying on the ground. (Not found in 2002).

Comments/Opinions

The church appears to be largely 12thc. with some later medieval alterations, including the rebuilding of the upper parts of the E window on the interior, the insertion of the N doorway and blocking of the W doorway, and relocation of some of the corbels. The beast head on the S side of the W doorway does not appear to be in its original position, and may originally have served as a corbel. It is similar in style to some of the beast heads at the Nuns' Church, Clonmacnoise. The human heads on the W facade and over the N doorway are unusually realistic in style; they are not in their original locations, and appear to have been designed as corbels.

Bibliography

  • A. Champneys, Irish Ecclesiastical Architecture. London and Dublin 1910, 1971, 103-4.
  • Dunraven, Notes on Irish Architecture. Dublin 1875 I, 105, 107.
  • H.G. Leask, Irish Churches and Monastic Buildings. Dundalk 1955 I, 74.
  • G. Petrie, The Ecclesiastical Architecture of Ireland anterior to the Norman invasion. Dublin 1845, 184.
  • P. Harbison, 'An Ancient Pilgrimage 'Relic-Road' in North Clare?', The Other Clare, 24 (2000), 55-59.
  • P. Harbison, 'Some Romanesque Heads from County Clare', NMAJ, 15 (1972), 3-5.
  • J. Ruffino, The church and site of Temple Cronan, the Burran, County Clare (Unpublished MA dissertation, UCC, 2000)
  • T.N. Westropp, 'The Churches of County Clare, and the origin of the ecclesiastical divisions in that county,' PRIA, 22 (1900) 134.

Location

Site Location
Temple Cronan
National Grid Reference
M 29 00 
Boundaries
now: Clare
Dedication
now: St Cronan
medieval:
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Tessa Garton