Location – On the R506 between Annacotty and Murroe. It is signposted from the road, and there is room to pull in and park.
OS: R 689 548
GPS: R 68933 54810
Latitude: 52.64399999 N
Description and History – This is a wonderful little church, tucked away in a graveyard between Annacotty and Murroe, near Limerick City, and is a National Monument. A monastery was founded here in the 6th or 7th century by St. Mo-Diomeg. The surviving remains date to the 12th century and consist of a simple rectangular church, roofless, with a Romanesque doorway in its west gable end. The church measures 14.6m x 5.5m internally. There are gothic style windows in east and south walls indicating remodelling at some point, likely in the 15th century. Further evidence for this is the presence of limestone in places, where the earlier masonry is all sandstone.
The doorway consists of three orders, the first of which consists of plain square jambs and an arch. The second order has fine capitals decorated with leaf and foliage motifs, and octagonal shafts. Much of the north shaft is missing, but the southern one is in very good condition and is carved with horizontal bands of chevrons with rows of beading, alternating with plain rows. The third order consists of an arch of chevrons. At the apex of the arch is a worn human head, while two worn beast heads serve as label stops. The decoration is very similar to that found at Aghadoe in Co. Kerry, which has been dated to 1158, suggesting a similar date to Clonkeen. The church is listed as being in ruins by 1657.
This is very nice little church, and a fantastic example of 12th century Romanesque decoration. If the 1150s date is accurate, it represents Romanesque Ireland at its zenith.
Difficulty – Easy enough to find and get to. Be careful on the R506 as cars tend to hurtle down there, and it’s easy to drive by.
For more ecclesiastical sites, click here.
For more sites in Co. Limerick, click here.