The early 13thc. cruciform church comprises chancel; nave, with N and S aisles; and N and S transepts, each with two chapels. The chapter house also survives from the 13thc. The remains of the domestic buildings are mainly 15thc. Romanesque sculpture is found in the transept chapels, the chancel, the Chapter House, on some of the nave piers and on a number of loose fragments currently in the Chapter House and in the S aisle.
The church has a long nave w. 8.74 m (Cochrane, 1904) x l. 61.87 m (Leask, 1960) of four bays separated by wide piers, with the remains of pointed clerestorey windows above, not symmetrically placed in relation to the bays. Only the lower courses of the first nave piers are still in situ. Some of the lower courses of N and S aisles survive. The chancel is rib-vaulted with a chamber above and has a triple E window. A later window has been inserted into the E end of the S wall. The crossing arches were blocked, probably in the 15thc., but small doorways allow access to the crossing and chancel from the nave and transepts. The transepts are entered from the nave aisles by a small doorway on the N and a larger archway on the S. Each transept has two E chapels, the chapels in the N transept are in a damaged state, although the entrance arches and some window mouldings survive. The chapels in the S transept have pointed barrel-vaults with moulded round-headed windows, mostly restored on the exterior (part of a continuous filleted roll survives on the exterior R window) and plain aumbries in their S walls. There is a walk-through between the chapels which has a finely-jointed, round-headed niche on the W side. The N transept has a large pointed window high in the N wall. The sacristy, which has a pointed barrel-vault and a square E window, adjoins the S transept and has an upper chamber now reached by stone steps from the S transept. The Chapter House has a triple E window with a single window of later date on either side. The Chapter House was divided into three, barrel-vaulted chambers in the 15thc. obscuring the E window.
Abbyeknockmoy was a Cistercian house, colonised from Boyle Abbey (Roscommon). It was founded 1189-90 by Cathal Crobderg Ua Conchobhair (O'Connor), King of Connaught, and dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Cathal later retired to the Abbey where he died on 28th May 1224 (Archdall, 266). Many other members of the O'Connor dynasty, including Cathal's wife, were interred in the Abbey.
Cathal also founded Ballintober Abbey in Mayo (1216).
Archdall records the plundering of the Abbey in 1202 by William de Burgo after Cathal was temporarily 'expelled his kingdom' in 1200.
The Abbey was dissolved in 1542.
C window: framed by a continuous hollow chamfer, otherwise plain. The label is carved with a row of half-palmettes followed by a fillet. The half-palmettes on the R have a raised vein on each lobe. At the bottom L is a human mask with the stem of the first half-palmette issuing from the R corner of his mouth, on the bottom R is a grotesque mask with large sunken, tear-drop shaped eyes, a grimacing mouth and small pointed ears on the top of its head.
R window: framed by a continuous angle roll as L window. The label is carved with a series of cylinders, staggered on face and soffit, followed by a fillet. The first six discs on the L are carved with incised circles (Champneys describes these as 'flat pellets, cut into spirals').
The label continues plain between the windows.
Splayed, with shared jambs. Continous, chamfered moulding along the bottom of the window. Continuous, chamfered label.
Pointed, triple window, framed by two, coursed, continuous rolls separated by hollows and set within a continuous, chamfered outer order. There is a plain, pointed window to either side of the triple window.
Originally, slender detached shafts supported small capitals. Most of the shafts are now missing, but some of the bobbin-like shaft supports survive.
L capital: twisted, grooved stems with foliage.
R capital: missing.
L window: undercut directional chevron (L to R).
C window: undercut lozenges attached to a central roll on the L side of the arch. On the R, lozenges, each containing a wedge (or pyramid) which originally supported frontal chevron. The frontal chevron has a double groove along its surface.
R window: as C window.
A continuous undercut hollow followed by a filleted angle-roll frames the group.
Pointed, of two orders.
Attic-type bases, filleted shafts.
N capital: damaged, multi-scallop.
S capital: multi-scallop, with lilies in the shields.
N capital: multi-scallop with triskeles in the shield.
S capital: symmetrical half-palmettes with branching stems, very delicate.
N capital: multi-scallop with foliage in the shields, damaged.
S capital: multi-scallop with inverted lilies in the shields, damaged.
Jambs chamfered on E and W angles, plain pointed arch.
On the E face there is a stop chamfer at the bottom of the jambs in the form of a leaf (damaged) on R, missing from L. The upper stop chamfers are voluted, damaged on R.
Of two orders.
No bases, hollow-chamfered responds, the R has the remains of an impost of the profile roll, hollow-chamfer, roll. There may have been volutes as in the N chapel but nothing survives now. The responds taper to a point in the arch.
Jambs chamfered on E and W angles, pointed arch.
Of two orders
N capital, E component: foliate collar, the face is carved with a series of half-palmettes growing from short, thick, twining stems.
N capital, central component: foliate collar, the face is carved with a pair of symmetrical half-palmettes below an inverted lily which nests between the half-palmettes. Above the lily are three short straight leaves, projecting forward.
N capital, W component: plain collar, the face is too damaged to read.
S capital, central component: plain collar, face similar to N capital, central component, although the pair of half-palmettes are held by a square clasp. A spiralled leaf lies on the upper R, and a long stem topped by small half-palmettes lies on the R of the face.
S capital, W component: damaged on the face, although two symmetrical half-palmettes above crossed stems may be seen extending toward the angles.
The imposts are hollow-chamfered with an incised line along the upright.
Plain, chamfered jambs, pointed arch.
A hollow-chamfered label continues between the two chapels.
Of four bays, with deep piers.
Pier 1: missing
Pier 3, E face: the impost has a hollow chamfer, a row of cable moulding followed by a band of shallow-carved, clasped lozenges, a three-quarter roll then an overhanging roll with a fillet. A crowned head is carved on the NE angle. The head has delicate features, large eyes within carefully delineated lids and brow, a fine row of curls across his forehead, and longer curling hair extending onto the jambs. The nose, and the lower part of the face has broken away.
Pier 3, W face: the impost has a hollow chamfer, flat, small roll, hollow, faceted roll. At the top of the chamfer on the NW two beasts are carved with a shared head (very damaged) on the angle. The claws and tail of the beast on the W face may be seen. There is a large foliate stop-chamfer on the SW angle.
The ribs of the vaulting are square. The vaulting supports have abaci/capitals of the profile square, flat, square, hollow chamfer, beading (or nailhead, Leask, 1960, 37) between fillets, followed by an overhanging plain impost. The supports die into the wall with foliage terminals. In place of keystones the masonry at the apices is composed of a series of symmetrical blocks.
S capital: cornucopia-shaped corbels, covered with shallow-carved foliate ornament and terminating in a reeded curl.
N capital: reeded cornucopia type.
S capital: reeded cornucopia type.
N capital: cornucopia type.
Round capital with twining stems and foliage terminals. Similar to those in the Chapter House E window. Dimensions not recorded.
Eight voussoirs (i-viii)carved with angled chevron flanked by a roll, with the points touching on a central roll. The fragments vary between 0.21 m—0.30 m in length.
Six voussoirs (ix-xiv) carved with angled chevron with a central roll and with the points touching on a flanking outer roll. The inverse of (i)—(viii). The fragments vary between 0.21 m and 0.28 m in length.
Three voussoirs (xv-xvii) carved with free-standing directional chevron (one numbered B7 and another, B38). The chevron carved on the third fragment appears to join the central roll rather than straddling it. Dimensions as above.