Errew Abbey

Signposted about 3.2km (2 miles) south of Crossmolina on the Castlebar Rd., then 5km (3 miles) down a side road, Co. Mayo

This atmospheric, ruined 13th-century Augustinian church sits on a tiny peninsula in Lough Conn. The cloister is well preserved, as is the chancel with altar and piscina, a stone basin used for disposing of the water used during Mass. The oratory of massive stone walls in fields adjacent to the abbey is on the site of a church founded in the 6th century. It’s known locally by the marvellous, tongue-twistery name Templenagalliaghdoo, which means “Church of the Black Nun.”

The history of the abbey is traced from its foundation by St. Tiernan in the 6th century. Up to 1400 students from all over Europe are said to have studied here. A new building appears to have been erected around the end of the 12th century. The abbey was reduced to ruins by Cromwellian settlers. There is a small ancient church or convent close by believed to have been built by St. Tiernan. The precious relic, Mias Thighernáin, or St. Tiernan’s dish, is associated with Errew.