Kilmacduagh Monastery, Galway, Ireland

The ruins of the 13th century monastery at Kilmacduagh are one of the more undervalued Irish historic sites I have visited. Its striking round tower is the highest ever built and even more captivating is the noticeable half a metre tilt from its base to top which might sound very little but is quite pronounced! It is believed that a monastery was founded at Kilmacduagh in the 7th century by Saint Colman Mac Duagh, the name mean ‘church of duagh’s son’. The lands were given to him by his cousin King Guaire Aidne mac Colmáin from Connaught. Many cures, miracles and holy wells are ascribed to St Colman and he was the abbot of the monastery until his death. The round tower is believed to be the oldest standing structure at Kilmacduagh, dating from the 10th century, and contains 11 windows, more than any other tower in Ireland, unsurprisingly its door is also remarkable, located 7 metres above ground level, as stated earlier the tower is the tallest surviving example, measuring an impressive 34 metres.

The majority of the other buildings at Kilmacduagh date from its 12th and 13th century life as an Abbey when it became a hub of learning and became the center of a new diocese in the 12th century. One of the largest of these buildings is the cathedral known as Teampall Mor Mac Duagh which is believed to date from the 11th century. There are several other structures at Kilmacduagh the Church of John the Baptist (aka Teampall Owen), the O’Heynes Church and Monastery, Our Lady’s Church (Teampall Muire) and the Glebe House which was probably where the Abbot resided. The early monastery was attacked multiple times and ruined by William de Burgh in the early 13th century. It was replaced by an Augustinian Abbey named St Mary de Petra under the patronage of a local lord Owen O’Heyne, further work was carried out by a Bishop named Maurice Illeyan (died 1283). The abbey continued to be in use until the reformation when it was granted to the Earl of Clanricarde. One of the most ongoing traditions associated with the site is said to be the curing of backache if one lies on the grave of St Colman, which is situated behind the cathedral

GPS: 53.04804, -8.88811

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