Inishmaine Abbey

Inishmaine Abbey,%20Mayo.html/

Inishmaine Abbey once sat on an island of Lough Mask.  Due to the lowering of water on construction of a canal the Abbey Ruins are now situated on a peninsula.  St. Cormac founded a Monastery at Inishmane during the seventh century.  The present building dated from 1223 AD when the site was repurposed as a Benedictine Nunnery.  The Abbey was burnt down during the seventeenth century.  There are remains of a thirteenth century church also a fifteenth century gatehouse: the latter would have protected the entrance to the building.  The chancel arch is incomplete but retains the fine sculpture capitals with images of foliage & imaginary beasts.  The twin east window is decorated in moulding of wild or imaginary animals.  GPS 53.59 80 – 9 30 12.  There are several images on this site.  (Ed Hannon 15th July 2015) [i]

The early Medieval Abbey was founded by St. Cormac / St Corbmac on an island during the seventh century.  Maelisa O ‘Connor, son of Turlough was awarded the title of Prior of Inishmaine, his demise was recorded at the Abbey during 1223 from the ‘Book of Ballymote.’  The present building dates from the early thirteenth century.  Malachy O ‘Connor was recorded as a Patron of the rectory of ecclesiastical lands of Inishmaine Abbey.  It was listed as a Benedictine cell also as an Augustinian Nunnery of Arroasian Nuns.  North East of the Abbey are the ruins of a fifteenth century gate tower.  There are several carvings on capitals of the chancel.  There is a splayed window on the later North transept.  The nave (with several ashlar blocks that may have been from an earlier structure) is now entered through the trabeate doorway in the doorway in the North wall that possibly was from an earlier building.  A small aumbry may be viewed in the South wall.  Discovery Map 38. M13856170.  Coordinates are Longitude 9. 18 5 W, Latitude 53 35 53 N.  There are beautiful mages by Jim Dempsey & Deb Suelson on this site. (April 2012) [ii]

Inishmaine Abbey was about five miles by road from Cong.  Circa one hundred years ago Loch Mask waters were lowered on the construction of a canal that left the Inishmaine, Inishown also Inishoog islands connected with each other plus the mainland on a peninsula.  Near the water’s edge was a vaulted stone building of the outer castellated gateway of the Abbey as mentioned by Wilde.  Within the field behind are the ruins of Inishmaine Abbey.  O ‘Donovan believed the Abbey was erected later than the Anglo – Norman invasion, perhaps during the twelfth or fourteenth centuries on the site of St. Cormac’s sixth century church.  It was constructed in the Hiberno – Romanesque style.  The Nave measured 41 inches x 21 inches to the chancel arch columns.  The church narrowed eastwards of the chancel at 20 inches x 15 inches.  Amidst the floridly decorative architecture of the building was a small square – headed doorway in the North of the Nave.  That trabeated doorway with inclined jambs plus massive lintel possibly may have dated to the eight century.  An early window in the North wall of the chancel may have been from Cormac’s era or a previous one also it may have been inserted for preservation.  Against each side of the chancel was a roughly square structure, possibly may have been domestic apartments or dwellings.  The East Gothic window of the chancel comprised two narrow round – headed lights deeply splayed.  The outer mouldings both inside & outside terminated in well – carved grotesque figures that included a man on horseback plus two animals with floriated tales fighting.  Clustered columns of four orders at the entrance to the chancel testified to the former existence of a beautifully – wrought Arch.  The capitals were decorated with carved floral designs that displayed a high standard of artistic skill & conception.  There was an Abbot at Inishmaine Abbey during the sixteenth century.  During 1306 the building was used as a parish church.  The ‘Annals of the Four Masters’ referenced Inishmaine Abbey in two paragraphs within their Manuscript.   In ‘The Life of Cormac’ (translated into Latin by Colgan for the ‘Leabhair Lecan.’)  the tale of Cormac’s initial visit to the palace / fort of the King of Connaught Owen Beul in which Cormac was not well received is narrated in this article.  Cormac prophesized that in some future date the Royal Dun would be levelled: then a Community of the Servants of Christ would erect a Monastery on the site. [iii]

The Abbey is included on this site of Abbeys within Mayo.  Inishmaine Abbey was located Southwest of Ballinrobe on the Eastern shore of Lough Mask.  It had been on an island, but canal construction of water lowering had resulted in it now being on a peninsula.  During the seventh century St. Corbmac founded the early Monastic site.  Following 1223 it was renamed.  The building was inhabited by Augustine of the Arroasian Nuns possibly from Annaghdown.  The Abbey was dissolved during 1587.  It was burned during the seventh century.  The only remains now are the thirteenth century Church with a fifteenth century Gatehouse.  There are several ashlar blocks in the Nave.  The North Lintelled doorway may be from an earlier period.  The chancel arc has carved capitols.  The Gemini Windows on East side are decorated with moldings of wild animals.  (5th June 2020) [iv]

This National Monument of Ireland Inishmaine Abbey is numbered 302.  The Motherhouse was Kilcreevanty Abbey.  Mainister Inis Meaín ruins are located on the eastern shore of Lough Mask Southwest of Ballinrobe.  Previously it had been on an island but following the lowering of the Lough’s waters for a canal construction it now is on a peninsula.  The Abbey was founded by St. Corbec during the seventh century, it was re -founded later than 1223.  Inhabited by the Arroasian Nuns that dependent on Kilcreevanty.  It was disestablished circa 1587. During the seventeenth century it was burnt.  The remains of a thirteenth century church plus a fifteenth century gate – house are onsite.  Inside the church may be viewed several ashlar blocks in the Nave with a lintelled doorway on North side, (it may be from an earlier structure.)  There are carved capitals on the Chancel Arch (Stocks).  The East twin window are decorated with mouldings of wild imagery animals. Coordinates are 53.59 80 92N, 9 3013 41 W. [v]

This building was an early Monastic settlement founded by St. Corbmac during the seventh century.  The Abbey was inhabited by Benedictine also Augustinian Nuns.  Re – founded as a church after 1223 possibly in 1227(?.)  The site was dependent on Kilcreevanty Abbey.  It was dissolved during 1587.  There is an image of Abbey on this page plus it is listed among Abbeys in Mayo. [vi]


A black / white image from Edward Rae Collection of church Ruins with Chancel & East windows is featured on this page:

An image of Chancel Arch plus window with information may be viewed at this link:

Publications refencing topic:

‘The Genealogies, Tribes, and Customs of Hy – Fiachrach: Commonly Called O ‘Dowda’s Country.’ 1844 Mac Firbis Duald Irish Archaeological Society, page 492.

‘The Life and Labours in Art and Archaeology George Petrie’ 2014 Stokes William Cambridge University Press. [vii]

‘St. Corbmac – The Corpus of Romanesque Sculpture in Britain and Ireland’ may be viewed on an online site at this link:

These publications ‘Annals of the Four Masters’ also ‘The Life of Cormac’ are referenced on this site:


[i] Inishmáine Abbey ( [assessed 3rd April 2021]

[ii] Inishmaine Abbey, Mayo (,%20Mayo.html) [assessed 3rd April 2021]

[iii] Antiquities ( [assessed 3rd April 2021]

[iv] Inishmaine Abbey ( [assessed 3rd April 2021]

[v] Inishmaine Abbey ( [assessed 3rd April 2021]

[vi] List of Monastic houses ( [assessed 3rd April 2021]

[vii] Inishmaine Abbey ( [assessed 3rd April 2021]


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