Clonmacnois, Nuns' Church, chancel arch, detail
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Clonmacnois, Nuns' Church, chancel arch, detail

Romanesque carving on chancel arch. According to Irish Churches and Monastic Buildings, the ornamental motifs at Clonmacnois are derived from a variety of sources including Classical Greek and Roman ornament, which may have influenced Irish masons' application of the palmette and fret design as well as unusual foliage and floral patterns, and the chevrons at the Nuns' Church. Leask points to Celtic art as the likely origin of abstract interlocking patterns on the archway. While Scandinavia contains abundant examples of bird and beast interlace, the interlocking rings at Clonmacnois are found throughout Northwest Europe in Normandy, Britian and Ireland. This particular pattern is called Ribbon Moulding because of the zig-zag shape of the [chevron]. Acrobat figure on chancel arch is related to similar early figures in French architecture as well as later Irish sheela-na-gigs.

Creation Date
1026, rebuilt 1167
11th, 12th
Specific Location

Interior, chancel arch, detail

Patrons and Others

Dearbhfhorghaill, daughter of Murchadh O Maelseachlainn, wife of Tighernan O Ruairc, mistress (?) of Diarmaid Mac Murchadha.

Descriptive Notes

Alternate names of Nuns' church at Clonmacnois include Riaghtalta Kailleach, Kelbyguneth, and Kelbygmieth.

Photo Credit
Peter Mancall
Image of Clonmacnois, Nuns' Church, chancel arch, detail.