Corcomroe Abbey

Top choice in The Burren

Moody and evocative, marvellously ruined Corcomroe Abbey sits in a quiet green hollow, 2km inland from Bellharbour, surrounded by the stark grey Burren hills. The former Cistercian abbey began its long decline in the 15th century, but the surviving vaulting in the presbytery and transepts is impressively intact and some striking Romanesque carvings remain.

The abbey was founded in 1195 by Donal Mór O'Brien. His grandson, Conor na Siudaine O'Brien (died 1268), king of Thomond, is said to occupy the tomb in the northern wall, and there's a crude carving of him below the effigy of a bishop holding a crosier, the pastoral staff that was carried by a bishop or abbot. Often-touching modern graves crowd the ruins.

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