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Clare Island Abbey
Mainistir Chliara
Clare Island Abbey NE 1997 09 10.jpg
Abbey viewed from the northeast
Clare Island Abbey is located in Ireland
Clare Island Abbey
Location in Ireland
Monastery information
Other names St. Brigid's Abbey, Mainister-ni-clarch; Cliara; Cleara; Clara; Insula Maris; Oilen-ui-maile
Order Cistercians
Established 12th century
Disestablished 17th century
Mother house Knockmoy Abbey
Diocese Tuam
Status inactive
Style Cistercian
Location Lecarrow, Clare Island, County Mayo
Coordinates 53°47′36″N 9°59′21″W / 53.793229°N 9.989088°W / 53.793229; -9.989088
Public access yes
National Monument of Ireland
Official name Clare Island Abbey
Reference no. 97

Clare Island Abbey, officially St. Brigid's Abbey, is a former Cistercian monastery and National Monument located in Clare Island, Ireland.


Clare Island Abbey is located in the centre of the south part of Clare Island, near the post office.


Saint Bridget`s Abbey was founded in the 12th/13th century and in 1224 became a cell of Knockmoy Abbey, a Cistercian abbey near Tuam.

It was rebuilt c. 1460. It contains numerous tombs of the local ruling family, the Ó Máille (O'Malley) and tradition claims it as the site of the baptism, marriages and burial of Gráinne "Grace" O'Malley (c. 1530 – c. 1603), the famous "pirate queen." She is believed to have been interred at the O'Malley tomb which has a canopy.

The abbey was probably dissolved during the late 16th century. Later it was a place of refuge for Carmelite Friars.


The abbey is furnished with piscina, sedilia, carved heads and ogee and cusp-headed lancet windows.

Clare Island Abbey contains a series of medieval wall and ceiling paintings. They depict mythical, human and animal figures including dragons, a cockerel, stags, men on foot and on horseback, a harper, birds and trees. Such ornamentation is unusual for a Cistercian foundation.

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