The origins of Kilmacduagh Monastery date back to the 7th century, when the King of Connacht, Guaire Aidne mac Colmáin, ceded land near Gort to his cousin Saint Colman Mac Duagh. The latter then decided to found a monastery there, thus promoting religious and cultural life.
In the 12th century, the influence of the monastery was such that the Church of Ireland decided to create a diocese there: the monastery was then the official seat for some time, before falling into oblivion and finally being abandoned. Nowadays, the monastery has become an important tourist attraction.
There is a legend concerning the creation of the monastery of Kilmacduagh. It tells that Saint Colman MacDuagh was walking alone in the woods when his stole fell to the ground. He interpreted this as a sign, and decided to establish his future monastery on this very spot. According to the writings, this stole was of great beauty, encrusted with gold threads and precious stones. After the death of St. Colman MacDuagh, it passed into the hands of the O’Shaughnessys family and is now on display in the National Museum of Ireland, based in Dublin.
Another legend also tells that it would be impossible to die from lightning strikes in the Monastery. The reason? A poor man would have been struck by lightning at Kilmacduagh, but would have been thrown into County Clare, where the poor man would have died?
The monastery is rather easy to access: deprived of a Visitor Centre, or of infrastructures that can offer a guided tour, you will be able to discover the monastery on your own, without having to pay an entrance fee.
However, we recommend that you be careful where you venture: the ruins are sometimes dangerous!
You will be able to admire within the site a pretty round tower, which is in truth the curiosity of the monastery. It is indeed a cylindrical tower, more than 30 metres high, which has the peculiarity of being curiously leaning!
Among the other remains, you can also admire a superb cemetery, with its tombs and carved crosses, some of which date back to the creation of the monastery.
There are also sections of wall that are still intact, giving a glimpse of what the monastery’s courtyard, its passageways and places of prayer looked like.