Prióireacht Naomh Mhuire, Cluain Tuaiscirt Uí Maine
nave doorway with carved saints
|Other names||The Old Abbey; Cluain-tuaiskirt-ua-maine; Clontuskert-Omanny|
|Established||c. 800; 1180|
|Location||Abbeypark, Ballinasloe, County Galway|
|Visible remains||abbey church, cloister|
|Official name||Clontuskert Abbey|
This was an early monastic site, founded c. AD 800 by Saint Boedan (Baedán, Baetan) and then located in the kingdom of Uí Maine. It should not be confused with Cloontuskert, located near Lanesborough and founded by Faithleach in the 6th century. Local tradition also states that Boedan's monastery was located not here, but at the ringfort at Chapelpark.
The Priory of St Mary, a priory of the Canons Regular, was founded for the Arroasian Order by the Ó Ceallaigh family c. 1180. It was built in the claustral plan in which the church and domestic buildings are arranged around a central cloister garth.
Clontuskert appears in the Calendar of Papal Petitions for 1379, where "Nicholas O’Quinaeych, Augustinian Canon of St. Mary’s Cluyctenagentomany [Clontuskert-Hy-Many]" was given a dispensation by Pope Urban VI to become prior of the monastery.
It burned down in 1404. It was soon rebuilt, with ten-year indulgences granted to those who paid for the reconstruction. This included the great four-order west doorway, erected 1471. The O'Kellys continued to influence appointment of the prior. In 1444, prior Breasal O'Kelly died in battle. In 1473, prior Donatus O'Kelly was accused of homicide and keeping a concubine.
The east gable wall collapsed in 1918, but was rebuilt in 1972. Excavation took place in 1970–72.
The great west doorway features many carvings, including Michael the Archangel with a sword and the scales for weighing souls; Saints Augustine of Hippo, Catherine of Alexandria and John the Baptist; a pelican feeding her young; a pair of griffins; and a mermaid with a mirror. The mermaid is similar to one at Clonfert Cathedral, while the doorway is similar to the one at Clonmacnoise. The inscription reads MATHEV DEI GRA EPS CLONFERTENS ET PATRE ONEACDAVAYN CANONIE ESTI DOMINE FI FECERT ANO DO MCCCCLXXI (Matthew by the Grace of God, Bishop of Clonfert, and Patrick O’Naughton, canon of this house, caused me to be made in 1471); the bishop referred to is Matthaeus Mág Raith, the only Augustinian to hold the see of Clonfert.
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