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Heritage Ireland

Corcomroe Cistercian Abbey

A Cistercian Abbey with panoramic views of the mountains of the Burren

Unguided sites

Abbey West, Athenry
Clare

Corcomroe Cistercian Abbey

A Cistercian Abbey with panoramic views of the mountains of the Burren

Unguided sites

Abbey West, Athenry
Clare

Facilities

  • Car park

Notice

Corcomroe Cistercian Abbey is a state-owned free National Monument in the care of the Office of Public Works

*approach to the site is along a narrow, but passable road*

Corcomroe Cistercian Abbey

Situated in the shadows of the picturesque Burren mountains, Corcomroe Abbey has been standing here since the 12th century. It has been debated as to whom founded the Cistercian Abbey: Donal Mór O’Brien in 1182, or his son Donal Cairbreach c. 1195? More sources believe it to be the son, as it was he who brought monks over from Innishlounaght.

The O’Brien’s were a very influential family in County Clare, as it is said that not only does their lineage trace back to Brian Boru, but likely Milesius, one of the early Kings of Ireland.

The parish of Corcomroe, and indeed the Burren area, was divided between the O’Loughlin and O’Conor tribes, however Corcomroe Abbey bordered the two family’s territories, which was likely a deliberate and strategic choice by the O’Brien’s, as Donal Mór wanted to wield his authority.

The Abbey swapped hands many times after the Dissolution of Monasteries in 1536, first in the 1550s to Murrough, the Earl of Thomond, then in 1564 to Donal O’Brien (known as the Chief of Clare), in 1584 it was given to Donagh O’Brien, and then Richard Harding in 1611.

The church is one of the few remaining original features of the Abbey, dating somewhere between 1210 and 1225. Corcomroe was designed in the style of the ‘School of the West’, a term referring to the work carried out by the stonemasons of the time.

Conservation work was carried out by the OPW on Corcomroe Abbey in 2006.

Protect our Past - Click here to read about the importance of protecting our country’s unique heritage sites

This national monument is protected in accordance with the National Monuments Acts 1930 to 2014

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