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Annaghdown Priory, Annaghdown

(53°23′15″N, 9°4′4″W)
Annaghdown Priory, Annaghdown
M 29 38
pre-1974 traditional (Republic of Ireland) Galway
now Galway
  • Tessa Garton

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Ruined priory church with a cloister to the S and some remains of monastic buildings. The chancel and parts of the W end of the nave remain. There is Romanesque sculpture on the label inside the window in the S chancel wall, and on a number of loose fragments, possibly jamb stones from the chancel arch.


A convent of nuns was established here by St Brendan in the 6thc. The Augustinian abbey was possibly founded by Toirrdelbach Ua Conchobar at the instance of St Malachy. The nuns may have become Arroasian soon after Clonard, c.1144. The church was confirmed to the Arroasian canonesses of Clonard in 1195. The church appears to have been shared by Arroasian canons and canonesses until c.1223-4. There is no evidence for nuns after this date and the nuns may have been transferred from Annaghdown to Inishmaine c.1223-4. The jurisdiction had been transferred from Clonard to Kilcreevanty by 1223-4. Dissolved in 1562.


Exterior Features


Interior Features

Interior Decoration


Loose Sculpture


The loose fragments may come from the jambs of the chancel arch. The capitals with angle heads are similar to those at Inchagoill, where the doorway may be by the same workshop. Capitals with human heads at the angles are a common feature in Irish Romanesque; there are other examples at Killeshin, Timahoe, Kilteel, Glendalough, Rahan, Duleek, Kilmore, Dysert O'Dea, Scattery and Inisfallen. The style of the jambs and capitals might indicate a date around the 1150s-1160s; the voussoir (xxii) with straddling directional chevron may be later 12thc. or early 13thc., and is similar to a loose springer (i) with lozenges in Annaghdown Cathedral.


R. Cochrane, ‘Galway Excursion; Annaghdown’, JRSAI, 31, 1901, 317-20.

A. Gwynn, R.N. Hadcock, Medieval Religious Houses, Ireland, London, 1970, 156-7, 312.

F. Henry, Irish Art in the Romanesque Period, London 1970, 178.

H.G. Leask, Irish Churches and Monastic Buildings, Dundalk 1955, I, 100.

C. O Lochlainn, Wilde's Loch Corrib, Dublin, 1936, 63-75.