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(click on the dragon for a detailed description)

The abbey contains extremely rare wall and ceiling paintings. Only three other examples of wall paintings still exist in Ireland.

There has yet to be any comprehensive, scientific dating of the paintings.They fall within the rather wide time-scale of 14th to 15th century. They are unique as paintings within the Cistercian context.

  • The mother house of the Clare Island abbey, Abbey Knockmoy, also has extant paintings. These are of a type which are typical through out Europe between the 14th and 15th centuries. It is both the style and the subject matter which make the Clare Island paintings so important and so delightful.

  • The Cistercian order did not believe in decoration. Cistercians were austere and disciplined in their pursuit of God and spirituality. The excesses of earlier orders, especially the Dominicaans, were frowned upon.

  • That the paintings in Clare island are exuberant and are most entirely devoid of religious content suggest the Irish-ness and indeed, Clare Island-ness of the monks and whoever were the artists paid little heed to the official doctrine.



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