Clonfert Cathedral

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Clonfert Cathedral
The Cathedral Church of St Brendan, Clonfert.
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Clonfert Cathedral
Location in Ireland
53°14′26″N8°03′31″W / 53.240651°N 8.058621°W / 53.240651; -8.058621 Coordinates: 53°14′26″N8°03′31″W / 53.240651°N 8.058621°W / 53.240651; -8.058621
Country Ireland
Denomination Church of Ireland
Dedication St Brendan
Style Romanesque, Gothic
Diocese Diocese of Limerick and Killaloe
Province Province of Dublin
Bishop(s) Kenneth Kearon
Dean The Very Reverend Gary Paulsen
Precentor Vacant
Archdeacon The Venerable R W Carney

Clonfert Cathedral is a cathedral of the Church of Ireland in Clonfert, County Galway in Ireland. It is in the ecclesiastical province of Dublin. Previously the cathedral of the Diocese of Clonfert, it is now one of three cathedrals in the United Dioceses of Limerick and Killaloe.


The current building was erected in the 12th century at the site of an earlier 6th century church founded by Saint Brendan, which was associated with a monastery he founded and at which he was buried. The Dean of the Cathedral is the Very Reverend Gary Paulsen who is also Dean of Killaloe, Dean of Kilfenora and both Dean and Provost of Kilmacduagh.

Detail of doorway ClonfertCathedral Doorway.JPG
Detail of doorway
Nave ClonfertCathedral Nave.JPG

Description of the cathedral

The earliest part of the church dates back to around 1180. [1] Its doorway is the crowning achievement of Hiberno-Romanesque style. It is in six orders, and has a large variety of motifs, animal heads, foliage, human heads etc. Above the doorway is a pointed hood enclosing triangles alternating with bizarre human heads, and below this is an arcade enclosing more human heads. The early 13th century east windows in the chancel is an example of a late Romanesque windows. The chancel arch was inserted in the 15th century, and is decorated with angels, a rosette and a mermaid carrying a mirror. The supporting arches of the tower at the west end of the church are also decorated with 15th century heads, and the innermost order of the Romanesque doorway was also inserted at this time. The sacristy is also 15th century. The church had a Romanesque south transept, which is now in ruins, and a Gothic north transept, which has been removed. In the Roman Catholic church one mile to the south is a 14th-century wooden statue of the Madonna and Child, and on the roadside near this church is a 16th-century tower-house.[ citation needed ]


Clonfert Cathedral was included in the 2000 World Monuments Watch by the World Monuments Fund. The soft sandstone structure had weathered severely, and prior conservation efforts, which did not fully address all the building's problems, as well as substantial biological growth, had compounded the deterioration. Due to the limited resources of the dwindling congregation, American Express provided financial assistance through the organization. [2]

Clonfert in the Annals

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See also