Inchbofin, St Rioch

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Feature Sets (2)


Inchbofin is an island in Lough Ree, on which two churches remain: one is a simple nave and chancel building of about 1200, lacking Romanesque decoration; the other is a more substantial 12thc church, which has been remodelled on various occasions: the original church was aisleless and measured (internally) 13.64m by 5.50 m; a transept was added to the N in the 15thc and a vaulted sacristy was inserted between this and the nave. The only Romanesque ornament is to be found in the chancel window.


Inchbofin was the site of an early Christian monastery, said to have been founded in the 6thc. by St Rioch, a nephew of St Patrick.  In 1016 the site was attacked by the Uí Briain, and Lough Ree continued to be a crucial border area between Meath, Bréifne and Connacht into the twelfth century, when battles were fought on the lake between the forces of these kingdoms.


Exterior Features


Window in N chancel wall

The N wall of the chancel contains a Romanesque window with a highly decorated rear arch, with a span of 1.0m. Most of the outer section of the window has fallen away, though in 1917 Crawford calculated its height as 2 feet 8 inches. Three rows of lateral chevron, on both the face and the soffit, forming 'cogwheel' chevron; continuous lines of beading frame the chevron on both face and soffit. The chevron starts on the second stone of each jamb and runs without interruption around the arch. The triangles formed by the chevron contain fret motifs. The arch is composed of eight stones on unequal size: five stones contain one chevron, two contain one and a half chevrons, and one (the springer on the W side) contains two chevrons. This was all carefully pre-planned, and it means that both centrifugal and centripetal chevrons are included in the arrangement. Diagonal tooling is visible on the soffit of the arch.          


A carved label stop (see the photograph in Crawford, below) suggests that there was once a Romanesque portal on Inchbofin, no other trace of which remains.


  • H. S. Crawford, 'The Churches and Monuments of Inis Bo Finne, County Westmeath',  Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, 47 (1917), 139-52.

  • H. G. Leask, Irish Churches and Monastic Buildings (Dundalk, 1955), 101-2.  

General view.
General view.


Site Location
Inchbofin, St Rioch
National Grid Reference
N 06 54 
now: Westmeath
pre-1994 traditional (Republic of Ireland): Westmeath
now: Clonard
medieval: Clonard
medieval: St Rioch
Type of building/monument
Church (ruin)  
Report authors
Roger Stalley 
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