St Mo-Diomog, Clonkeen

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Feature Sets (2)


Small rectangular church with antae at E and W end. (Internal measurements 14.6 m x 5.5 m). Roofless, but with walls fairly well preserved. The W part of the church, incorporating the N window and the fine W doorway is Romanesque, built of roughly coursed large stones, mostly sandstone. The E end was probably rebuilt in the 15thc. of thinner courses of grey limestone with late Gothic windows in the E and S walls.


The monastery was founded by St Mo-Diomog, in the 6th-7thc. (Gwynn and Hadcock, 1970). The church was already in ruins in 1657.


Exterior Features


W doorway, nave

Round-headed, of three orders, of reddish sandstone. No tympanum or lintel.

First order

Plain square jambs and arch, continuous.

Second order

N jamb: base and most of detached nook shaft missing. Only the top of the shaft (0.18 m) remains, carved from the same block as the capital. The shaft is octagonal, with horizontal bands of chevron, comprising rows of beading alternating with three plain rows, similar to S jamb.

The capital is decorated on two faces with broad leaves at the angles and a central foliage motif. The abacus and necking are carved from the same block, together with the top section of the colonnette.

S jamb: tall, square, block-like base, resting on a chamfered plinth. A spur extends about halfway down the angle. The base is decorated with bands of low-relief ornament: (from bottom to top) zig-zag; beading; then a plain band which turns down at the angle to outline the spur; zig-zag; beading. Above the base is a band of beading with a torus above. The detached nook shaft is octagonal and in three sections (lower section h. 0.68 m., middle section h. 0.25 m., top section h. 0.18 m) and integral with the capital. The shaft is decorated with horizontal bands of chevron, consisting of, alternately, three plain rows followed by a row of beading. Bands of chevron continue smoothly across the joins in the shaft.

The capital is similar to the N jamb capital.

The arch has one row of lateral chevrons on the face, of the profile: wedge, roll, wedge. The soffit is decorated with a row of beading, with drilled holes in the centre of the beads, flanked by a fillet.  

Third order

Plain square jambs, projecting c. 6 cm. from the W facade. Some indication of a plinth is given on the R jamb, by a concave horizontal moulding. Some stones continue across the jamb and adjacent facade.

The arch has two rows of frontal chevrons, of the profile: wedge, roll, wedge.   The label consists of irregularly sized stones, and is carved with directional face chevron pointing to the apex. The profile alternates rolls and beaded bands. The outer edge has an angle roll and the inner edge is chamfered with raised pyramidal bosses on the chamfer. On the soffit there is a row of beading flanked by fillets. A worn and damaged human head is found at the apex and there are large, beast head label stops, somewhat worn.


N window, nave

Round-headed, with wide interior splay. The upper parts are missing, but the jambs and arch springing on the W side remain. No decoration is evident on the exterior (access difficult).

d. of N capital 0.22 m
d. of S base 0.20 m
d. of S capital 0.25 m
h. of N capital incl. necking 0.25 m
h. of necking 0.05 m
h. of necking 0.06 m
h. of opening 2.43 m
h. of S base 0.28 m
h. of S capital incl. necking 0.26 m
w. of N capital 0.22 m 0.22 m
w. of opening at base 0.95 m
w. of opening at top 0.93 m
w. of S base 0.20 m
w. of S capital 0.22 m

There is a broad flat border on the face of the jambs and the remains of an arch, flanked by angle rolls. The W side is fairly well preserved, with a band of beaded zigzag ornament. The E side is very damaged, but appears to have been similar. Red sandstone.


The capitals of the W doorway are similar to those of the chancel arch of St Caimin's, Iniscealtra (Co. Clare). The capitals and columns with chevron are similar to those at Aghadoe, Co. Kerry (dated 1158). Henry dates Clonkeen to the mid 12thc. by comparison with Aghadoe.


  • R. R. Brash, Ecclesiastical Architecture of Ireland. Dublin 1875, 66.
  • A. C. Champneys, Irish Ecclesiastical Architecture. London 1910, 33, 119, 127, 129.
  • E. Dunraven, Notes on Irish Architecture (ed. M. Stokes). London, 1877, II, 113-115, pl.CLXIX.
  • A. Gwynn and R. N. Hadcock, Medieval Religious Houses, Ireland. London 1970, 377.
  • F. Henry, Irish Art in the Romanesque Period. London, 1970, 166.
  • H. G. Leask, Irish Churches and Monastic Buildings. Dundalk 1955, I, 127-9, fig.70.
  • T. J. Westropp, 'A Survey of Ancient Churches in the County of Limerick,' Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, 25,1904-5, 439-40.
W facade.


Site Location
National Grid Reference
R 69 55 
now: Limerick
now: St Mo-Diomog
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Tessa Garton