Thursday, October 14, 2010

Clonfert Cathedral

On the way to Dromineer last Friday I wandered off the direct route. I was far too early, the tail backs, accidents, bad weather, diversions I allowed for (and always allow for) didn't happen so driving through west Offaly I was tempted to cross the Shannon into Connacht at Banagher. I went to look for Clonfert Cathedral.

I knew that this, especially its twelfth century Hiberno-Romanesque doorway, is one of the most impressive mediaeval buildings in the country, had studied it on paper in 1969 in UCD so it was time to actually visit it.

Not easy to find, not many signposts and nowadays there are very few people walking or cycling on these smaller back roads. Those that are seem always to be talking on mobile phones. The person I asked interrupted her conversation and gave precise directions. It was worth the visit.

What's so impressive and unexpected is the scale. This is a small cathedral with a small west doorway. But what an impressive doorway it is with the human heads and triangles regularly arranged above. The six orders of the doorway have more human heads and animal heads and various geometric and plan like patters. The inner order with the carvings of clerics or saints is in limestone and is fifteenth century.

The famous St Brendan the Navigator is said to have founded the monastery on this site and to be buried there.

That's two Church of Ireland Cathedrals in the one week.

Off to watch Sligo Rovers in the cup semi-final in Dalymount tonight (Friday).

1 comment:

Knowth said...

The mermaid inside near the alter is a real surprise http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Clonfert_mermaid_crop.jpg