Clonfert Cathedral, Galway/Offaly Border

Clonfert Cathedral also known as Saint Brendan's Cathedral is possibly one of the most intriguing buildings in Ireland.


The Cathedral has the most curious, beautiful, and simply breathtaking arched entrance I've ever seen in an Irish Church.

It is described as a "Hiberno Romanesque" archway and is made of Sandstone with several courses of intricate and interesting creatures and designs.

The building is considered to be of International importance and is listed on the World Monuments Fund website here: World Monument Fund

The earliest part of the Cathedral dates to 1045 and was constructed on the site of a Monastery founded in the 6th Century by the navigator, Saint Brendan. It is believed that at one stage up to 3000 monks were situated here.

Clonfert is just across the County border from Banagher in Offaly and lies just inside Galway.

The Cathedral was open when I visited but if it's locked I believe you get the key from the house just across the road.

This is not a typical tourist site. It is an historic architectural wonder and little visited so it's nice and quiet as well.

The Cathedral contains a delightful little Mermaid, a two legged Dragon (Wyvern), happy smiley Angels, stunning Stained Glass Windows, early Christian Slabs, amazing sandstone Carvings, a stunning wooden Ceiling, an old Carved wooden Pulpit, a brightly painted Organ, a 15th Century Font, and a host of interesting features that kept me happily wandering around awestruck for a couple of hours.

Some of the beautiful Stained Glass windows were produced by M and R Sillery of 107, Abbey Street, Dublin sometime in the 1800's, with a date of 1861 on one pane.
Information here:
Dictionary of Irish Architects

Clonfert Cathedral should be on everyone's list to visit at least once in their lifetime. It is simply stunning.

The listing is here for the Cathedral with more information about the the architectural aspects of the building ..... Buildings of Ireland

Saint Brendan died sometime between 577 and 587 (we won't argue over the exact date) and is reputedly buried here in the grounds at Clonfert.

It's very plausible that Brendan did indeed reach Newfoundland on his voyages. My own voyage to Clonfert though considerably shorter was well worth the journey and hopefully I'll get back to see Clonfert again sometime.

Clonmacnoise in Offaly is not too far away from here although if I could only visit one site I'd go for Clonfert every time. I have no idea why it has so few visitors however a bonus of that is it's a tranquil and quiet place to visit.

Heritage Council Conservation report for Clonfert here :

Windows and Tiled Floor

Hiberno Romanesque Arch Entrance

Carved Detail

Burial Slabs

15th Century Font

Carved Wooden Pulpit

Clonfert Cathedral

Smiling Angel

Detail from Arch

 Interior and Ceiling