Clontuskert Priory, also known as the Augustinian Priory of St Mary was founded in the latter half of the 12th century by Turlough O’Connor, King of Connaught. It was built near the site of an earlier monastery founded by St Baedán, who died in 809AD. Clontuskert was one of the first monasteries that were granted to the Augustinians whom St Malachy had invited to Ireland from France. The Priory was built in the cloistral plan, in which the church and domestic buildings were all arranged around a central cloistered garden.
By the end of the 13th century Clontuskert had become one of the richest monasteries in the diocese. By the second half of the 14th century the monastery had become corrupt and in 1413 it was completely burned. The Prior offered ten year indulgences to those who contributed to the rrepair of the buildings and most of what remains today is due to the 15th century reconstruction. The beautiful east window and west door were constructed at this time. The west door was erected in 1471 and is decorated beautifully with carvings of saints, animals and even a mermaid holding a mirror. Two years after the building of the door the Prior was accused of homicides and keeping concubines! After the dissolution of the monasteries Clontuskert passed into the hands of the de Burgos, however the monks remained at Clontuskert until the early years of the 17th century.
Clontuskert is an incredibly ornate and peaceful place. The short pathway that leads down from the main road to the cloistered buildings only adds to the anticipation you feel as you approach this large, powerful priory.
GPS: 53.2825, -8.21567