Kilmacduagh Monastery lies about 5km south-west of Gort in the landscape of Burren. It was here that Colman son of Duagh, founded his episcopal see around 610. Kilmacduagh means - Church of the son of Duagh (Cill meic Duach). The original church was built for him by his cousin King Guaire Aidne Mac Colman of Connacht (died 663 in Ireland).
The monastery contains a round tower the highest surviving in Ireland, notable as both fine example of this particularly Irish feature but also because of its noticeable lean, over half a metre from the vertical. The tower is over 34 metres tall, with the only doorway some 7 metres above ground level. The cap collapsed in 1859 and was rebuilt as part of general restoration in 1878.
The present cruciform cathedral is the result of a 14-15th century rebuilding of a much earlier cathedral. The south wall has a Romanesque lancet, a Gothic arch leading to the south transept, a small lancet window and a low Gothic entrance door. The 16th century wall tomb is of Sir Dermot O'Shaughnessy of Gort.
To the north of the Cathedral is a small nave-and-chancel church called St John's the Baptist Church. It has rounded and pointed windows and a much later chancel, but little of it left. Several hundred metres to the northwest of the church is another nave-and-chancel church. This is O'Heynes Church. It was biult in the 13th century by Owen O'Heyne, the local chieftain, as part of a monastery for Augustinian canons. The church has two fine round-headed widely splayed lancets in the east wall flanked by thin pilasters. The corners of the east gable also have pilasters.
This site was of such importance that it became the centre of a new diocese, the Diocese of Kilmacduagh, in the 12th century; it is now incorporated into the Diocese of Galway. The monastery, because of its wealth and importance, was plundered several times in the 13th century. The destruction of Kilmacduagh can probably be dated to the troubles of the mid-16th century.
According to legend, Saint Colman MacDuagh was walking through the woods of the Burren when his girdle fell to the ground. Taking this as a sign, he built his monastery on that spot. The girdle was said to be studded with gems and was held by the O'Shaughnessys centuries later, along with St. Colman's crozier, or staff. The girdle was later lost, but the crozier came to be held by the O'Heynes and may now be seen in the National Museum of Ireland.
It is said that, in the Diocese of Kilmacduagh, no man will ever die from lightning. This legend was put to the test when one unlucky soul was struck, but the force of the bolt made him fly through the air into neighbouring County Clare, where he died.
The site affords a splendid view of the local area, and is the centre of some interesting local legends and folklore
More about Round Towers you will find HERE.
More about Monastic Sites in Ireland you will find HERE.
About 4km southwest of Gort, on a side road to the north of R460 and signposted.
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