Clare Abbey is a scenic ruin of crumbling walls, tracery windows, a tower and ruined battlements. Remains of a church, cloister and domestic buildings dwell forgotten amid the tall grass near the River Fergus. Founded by King of Thomond Donal Mór O’Brien in the twelfth century, the monastery has seen its share of trouble. In 1278 warring factions of the O’Brien clan butchered soldiers, women, children and servants at the abbey. Today the peaceful ruins are mostly deserted and you can wander through the haunting site observing the carvings, gateway, chapels, graveyard and tomb inscriptions like the epitaph near the altar:“Death’s Our end, and to the grave We go, But Where or When no man can tell or kno.”
At one time the largest and most important Augustinian monastery in County Clare, its former glory slumbers by the railroad tracks surrounded by fields of cows and sheep like countless other ruins scattered all over Ireland.
Clare Abbey is located about two miles south of Ennis, Co. Clare signposted off the N18/M18 at the Clarecastle Roundabout. Follow a small road till it dead ends at railroad tracks, where you can park. To visit the abbey you must go through some gates, cross over the tracks and walk through fields. Free admission at all times.
© 2011 Michele Erdvig
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