Temple Cronan is a small church dating to the 12th century in the unbelievably beautiful region of Ireland called The Burren.
Part of The Burren.
The Burren is on the West Coast of Ireland in County Clare and Temple Cronan stands just out of a very small town called Carran. Temple Cronan was part of a small monastic enclosure. While much of the remains of the church are original to the 12th century the doorway with the pointed arch that you can see in the photo below was added in the 15th/16th century
The original doorway can be seen blocked up in the photos below.
The church at Temple Cronan measures just 6.5 by 3.1 m and it is built of local Burren stone. A significant amount of decoration survives, which is especially unusual in the such a small church. You can see some on the edge of the window frame in the photo below. Standing beside Temple Cronan and dating to an earlier period are two stone tomb shrines. One is thought to be the grave of St Cronan who was the founder of the small monastic settlement possibly in the 7th century. Both tombs would have been sites of prayer and pilgrimage. It is unknown who the second tomb belonged to.
One of the tombs, possibly St Cronan’s
My favourite part of the Temple Cronan is the carved human heads and faces that adorn the corbels of the church. They are most likely Romanesque in origin and as they have weathered they have become surprisingly haunting.
Temple Cronan stands in The Burren, which is one of the most magical places I’ve ever been. The Burren is a landscape of limestone which was laid down 340 million years ago and has weathered significantly in this time. It has in fact also been shaped by glacier movement. The glacier movement helped to create the ‘grykes’ or cracks that you can see in the photos below. It is an area of 250 square km and in some places the limestone is 17m thick.
Where the ‘lunar’ landscape of The Burren meets the coast.
This unique landscape creates the perfect conditions for an astounding array of flowers with 70% of Ireland’s native plant species found there.
For more on the plants of The Burren http://www.pennywoodward.com.au/burren/#more-2454
Temple Cronan is not the only historical site on The Burren. In fact the region is liberally dotted with ancient tombs and and ruins. The best known is probably Poulnabrone which dates to the Neolithic period and can be seen in the photo below. I hope to write about it and some of the others in the future.
The Burren is truly beautiful and Temple Cronan not only stands in its midst, but is built of the stone that has shapes it. Below are some photos of the enthralling landscape.
References: Site visit in 2015 and visit to The Burren area in general in 2012.
All the photos are my own.