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St Jarlath, Tuam

(53°30′54″N, 8°51′8″W)
M 435 520
pre-1974 traditional (Republic of Ireland) Galway
now Galway
  • Rachel Moss

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Feature Sets

Parish church built of limestone rubble of which only the E gable and N and S returns remain.


A letter of c.1211 suggests that by that date the Premonstratensian Abbey at Tuam had been in existence for some years. The exact date of its foundation is unknown, although it has been attributed to William de Burgo, in c.1203-4. In 1244 Tuam ‘and all its churches’ were burnt. The Abbey and its possessions were leased to Thomas Lewes in 1574 and four years later were granted to the Burgesses and commonalty of Athenry (Gwynn and Hadcock, 1970, 207).


Exterior Features


Exterior Decoration


The positioning of the reused fragments suggests that their insertion into the wall is coeval with the construction of the E gable. The mouldings on the windows suggest a date of c.1230, and it seems likely that the stones were inserted into the fabric at this early stage. The carving of the heads find their closest parallels at Dysart O' Dea and Clonfert, suggesting a date of c.1170-80. Although no arc is now discernible in the stones, the most likely function of the head carved stones was as part of an arch as at Dysart O'Dea. It is possible that the stones may have come from the nearby cathedral which ‘fell’ in 1184, although it is known that a number of other churches existed in Tuam during the 12thc., so that the stones could have come from any one of them.

A. Andersson, 'Romanesque Heads at Temple Jarlath, Tuam' JGAHS, Vol.34, 1974, 98-101.
A. Gywnn and R. N. Hadcock, Medieval Religious Houses: Ireland, London, 1970, 206-7.
D. Ó Murchú Tuam, Tuam, 1971, 9, 12.
R. Stalley, 'Romanesque Sculpture of Tuam' in A. Borg and A. Martindale (eds) The Vanishing Past, Studies in medieval Art, Liturgy and Metrology presented to Christopher Hohler, Oxford, 1981.