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Journals 1888-1916

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Abbey Parish

1893, Vol. II (2)

Corcomroe Abbey.
From Lord Walter Fitzgerald, F.R.S.A.I.

This abbey lies in the Burren district, 4 miles to the east of Ballyvaughan; it has been made a National Monument of since the year 1879, and so is now well kept. It was founded in 1194 by Donnell O’Brien, King of Thomond, for the Cistercians, and contains the notable stone effigy of Connor Roe (na-Siudine) the son of Donough O’Brien, King of Thomond, who was killed in battle in this neighbourhood in 1267-8. In this year Connor Roe invaded the Corcomroe and Burren districts to enforce his authority among some rebellious local chiefs, who encountered him at a place called “Siudaine,” near Bealaclugga (or Bell Harbour), close to the abbey, and defeated and slew him. The “Annals of the Four Masters” thus note his death:—

“The age of Christ, 1268. Conor Roe O’Brien, Lord of Thomond, Seoinin, (i.e. little John) his son, his daughter, his daughter’s son, i.e., the son of Rory O’Grady, Duvloughlin O’Loughlin, Thomas O’Beollan, and a number of others, were slain by Dermot, the son of Murtough O’Brien, for which he himself was afterwards killed; and Brian, the son of Conor O’Brien, then assumed the lordship of Thomond.”

Connor Roe’s body was taken and buried with great pomp in the Abbey of Burren (now called Corcomroe Abbey), which, as before mentioned, was founded by his grandfather. This effigy of King Conor O’Brien, and that of Felim O’Connor, King of Connaught, who died in 1265, and was buried in Roscommon Abbey, are the only two royal effigies known to exist in Ireland; both are of limestone, of the same date, and are twin-like in appearance, dress, and attitude.

This tomb is placed in a niche on the north side of the choir; the slab measures 7 feet in length, and is wider at the top than at the bottom, being 26 inches in width at the head and about 18 inches at the foot (the corner near the left foot is broken away); as it probably formed the lid to a stone coffin, there are no sides to it.

The figure is clothed in a long loose robe, reaching from the neck to half way down the calves; the sleeves fit close, and cover the arms to the wrists; over the robe is hung a mantle, falling from the shoulders to the ankles.

The head rests on an oblong block, and is encircled by a crown decorated with fleur-de-lys, now much broken; the hair can be seen at the top of the head, and is arranged in a fringe on the forehead; it falls in long locks over the ears down the neck, curling up at the ends; the face is clean shaved.

The right arm is stretched by the side, and the hand holds what was a fleur-de-lys headed sceptre, which lies between the arm and the body, with the head resting on the shoulder.

Tombs of King Conor na Siudaine O'Brien, 1267, and of a Bishop [no date], in Corcomroe Abbey.
Tombs of King Conor na Siudaine
O'Brien, 1267, and of a Bishop
[no date], in Corcomroe Abbey.

The left hand rests on the chest, and holds a reliquary which is suppended from a band that runs round the neck between the mantle and the robe.

The feet are shod in pointed-toed shoes, having a diamond-shaped opening over the instep; they are secured to the feet by a strap and small buckle, fastening round the ankle. Both feet rest on a block of foliage.

This effigy, except for the damage done to the crown and sceptre, is in very fair condition. James Quinn, the caretaker of the Abbey, says he heard that some thirty years ago this effigy used to have a pipe in its mouth, which was knocked off by a man named O’Dowd, now in America; what this could really have been is puzzling; as far as I could see, there was no trace of anything having ever been near the mouth.

Beside the king’s effigy is a row of three or four slabs, on one of them is incised:—


In a niche in the wall opposite to the one with the effigy, is a baulk of timber, lying on the ground roughly cut, on which is a cross in relief, with the letters Cr O’ Ln incised on it; this marks Connor O’Loughlin’s burial-place.

The next two inscriptions are taken from slabs lying in the body of the Abbey, both of which are in relief:—



I.N.R.I. I.H.S.


The next two again are incised, and lie in the east end:—

“The Lord have Mer
cy on the Soul of
Miles Burke who Di
ed May 10th 1787 Erec
ted by his Son Mick
ael Burke.”

TERITY 1775.”

There are only four cross-bearing slabs lying in the Abbey; in shape they are long, and broader at the top than at the bottom; they are all carved in low relief. One of them, bearing a cross with fleur-de-lys ends to the arms, measures 6½ feet in length, and in breadth 23 inches at the top and 17 inches at the bottom; it has unfortunately been appropriated in recent times, and has the following inscription incised across it:—

“Michl Gallane | This Tomb is the | property of patrik | Tool for him | & posterity | 1828.”

Built into the wall over the king’[s] effigy, is a short limestone slab, on which is carved in relief, an abbot, holding a crozier in the left hand, while the right arm is bent and the hand open except for the last two fingers. The sculpture is unfinished; it was discovered underground, and placed where it now is in 1879.

Not far from Corcomroe Abbey, on the north side of a hill called the Corker, is St. Patrick’s Well, close beside which is a tall square pillar of mason-work, having a slab (20 inches by 19 inches) built into one of its faces. The following inscription, in relief, is on this slab:—

“O • LORD • III (sic) SVS | CHRIST • HAV | E • MERCY •ON | VS • PRAY • FOR | THE • SOVLES | OF • IOHN • COR | NYN • AND • HIS | WIFE • MARY | M’NEMARA • 1750.”

From T. J. Westropp.
There are several mediæval tombs with floriated crosses and triquetras, &c., but no inscriptions. The “Wars of Turlough” record the burial of Donat O’Brien, one of the Kings of Thomond, and his cousins Mortogh Garv and Brian Bearra O’Brien, and many other chiefs, in this Abbey, after the sanguinary battle of Corcomroe, or Drum Lurgan, in August, 1317. The graves of the chiefs had distinguishing marks cut upon the slabs; the place is described as “the smooth, whitewashed, and grave-flagged sanctuary”!! A curious coffin lid of yew wood, with an incised cross, is preserved in the south sedile. The tomb of King Connor O’Brien, who fell in an ambuscade in the wood of Siudaine in 1267, still remains as shown in my sketch [above]. “The Wars of Turlough” thus allude to it:— “His body was honourably interred in the Monastery of East Burren by the monks of that convent, who also raised a grand marble figure to his memory. Eleven and twice seven years had Conor of a long reign.”

“My glory was darkened when he fell,
Yea! when he died on Siudaine.”

The face is of the most conventional description, though the features have been described as “noble and full of repose,” he wears a pleated tunic coming below the knee, and pointed brogues, open on the instep; his left hand holds a reliquary with bands round his neck, his right a sceptre, which, like his crown, is decorated with a trefoil or lily; he is clean shaved, but his hair falls in heavy locks to his neck. His feet rest on an object (not a dog) carved with fleurs-de-lys; the effigy is about 6 feet long. Over it is set the effigy of a bishop in alb, mitre, and chasuble in a trefoil niche; he holds a spiral-headed crosier in his right hand.

1901, Vol. V (1) part 1

The Cistercian Abbey of Corcomroe
From T.J. Westropp, Esq., 1900

“MILES BURKE died May 10th 1787 put up by his son MICHAEL BURKE” (tomb closing north chapel).

JOHN STUART MORAN of Muccenish and his children JOHN; AUSTIN; HENRY & CATHERINE 1845.”

1902, Vol. V (2)

Parish of Burrin? [Abbey]
From Mrs. E. H. Beresford Massy, Mallow, 1901.

Wandering on the mountain-side, near a holy well (St. Patrick’s), I came upon a square block of brick masonry, about four feet square, with an inscribed slab let in on one side, with the annexed inscription in raised and conjoined letters; and on a stone alongside of this inscription is a rudely cut head in outline:—


This erection is built of the rough limestone of the mountain-side, and stands on a circular base of stones, through which the grass, &c., grows freely.
A little further on, and on the opposite side of the road, is a place where unbaptized babies are buried.

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