St. Cronan's Church

St. Cronans Church, Tuamgraney, County Clare

St. Cronans Chruch in Tuamgraney, founded in the 10th century by St. Cronan is believed to be one of the oldest churches in use in Ireland today and is one of Irelands most historical buildings. It has close links to Brian Boru, the Greatest High King of Ireland, was believed to have regularly visited the Church since his childhood. Apparently he is also believed to have repaired the building over 1000 years ago during the time his brother Marcan was Abbot of Tuamgraney.

Tuamgraney Church is claimed to be the oldest church still in use in Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales. Brian Boru (Bryan Boru) entered through its doorway 1000 years ago, this doorway is still intact today. In the early 6th century a monastery was founded here by St, Cronan who was abbot of Clonmacnoise, the church was renowned as a centre of learning. The monastery was pillaged by Vikings in 886 A.D. and 949 A.D though it still continued to thrive.

Sometime between 949 and 964 A.D, Cormac Ua Cillin, Abbot of Tuamgraney, built the western part of the Church. The part of the Church believed to be repaired by Brian Boru (Bryan Boru) forms the nave of the church. There are also other characteristic features of early architecture including the prominent antae at the corners of the gable, cyclopean masonry and the doorway with its immense Lintel and inclined jambs. The earlier church at the site was probably built from wood. The chancel was added in the 12th century. There is a carved head with female features on display which came from the outside wall of the western gable. In folklore, Grían was a sun goddess who drowns herself in lough Graney, she was washed up in Tuamgraney and was buried there, Tuamgraney comes from the name, the tomb of Grain.

(Images countesy of Jim Dempsey at megalithicireland.com)

St. Cronans Tuamgraney, Tuamgraney Church