St. Cronan's Church

In the late 6th Century Saint Cronan, the patron of Roscrea, established a monastery at Sean Ross, about a mile outside the town. The monastery, however, was in a remote location and difficult for pilgrims to find. Cronan, therefore, sought to move his religious settlement to the main highway, the Sligh Dála, and it was around his new monastery that the town of Roscrea grew. It was here that the famous Book of Dimma was created, along with its precious and ornate cover, and many other 8th - 12th Century manuscripts and carvings produced here gives one the image of St. Cronan's being a feverishly busy hub of activity. Also in the grounds of the monastery is the High Cross of St. Cronan, a sandstone ringed cross that dates from the 12th Century. Carvings on the monument show images of an ecclesiastic (possibly Cronan) and a representation of Adam and Eve, along with animal interlace carvings.

Ornate Romanseque Architecture

The Church of St. Cronan dates from the 12th Century, and its style of architecture is typically Romanesque. In 1812 much of the building was demolished to make way for a road that cut right through the Church, leaving only the west gable and short lengths of the nave intact. In the remains that survive today close comparisons can be made between St. Cronan's Church and Cormac's Chapel on the Rock of Cashel, the latter being widely acknowledged as the country's best preserved Romanesque building. In both can be seen chevron designs, rounded arches, steeply pitched eaves and blind arcading. Left and right of the ornate doorway at Roscrea are two blind arcades, and over the door is the figure of an ecclesiastic, probably representing St. Cronan. At either side are the carvings of rosettes. Added to the gable is the bellcote (bell housing) which was added to the Church in later years. Also modified at this time was the slope of the roof, which would, originally, have been of a much steeper gradient.

Sources - Cunningham, "Roscrea and District"; OPW, "Urban Archaeological Survey"

previousPrevious - Roscrea
Next - The Round Towernext