The medieval church from the 12th century (rebuilt around 1460), known as the Abbey, is unique in Ireland because of the extent of its surviving medieval wall paintings. Only four other such paintwork examples still exist in Ireland & Clare Island’s is the most intriguing and best preserved. The abbey gives one of the best opportunities to experience what a medieval painted interior would have looked like. The building also contains the O’Malley Tomb, supposedly the burial site of Gráinne O’Malley. The Abbey boasts the best example of rare medieval roof paintings in Ireland. The paintings depict mythical, human & animal figures including dragons, a cockerel, stags, men on foot and on horseback, a cattle raid scene, a harper, birds & trees. The paintings originate from two painting phases, therefore must have been commissioned by two separate O’Malley Chiefs who wanted to leave their mark in the abbey. The Abbey – a national monument in state care underwent a major conservation project in the 1990’s which revealed many new images. Fascinating is the mixture of religious images, scenes of everyday life and mythological creatures.

PLEASE NOTE: FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY AS WELL AS TOUCHING THE WALLS INSIDE THE ABBEY IS FORBIDDEN

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