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The Collegiate Church of Saint Nicholas is the largest medieval parish church in Ireland which has been in continuous use as a place of worship. The church is dedicated to Saint Nicholas, from whom the story of Santa Clause comes, and was finished by 1320.

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As we were walking around the church in order to find the entrance, I noticed this sign.  Pictures of Eyre Square to come tomorrow!

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This wall was also quite unusual with its ornamentation and walled-in door.

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The original building was only one “width” but was enlarged during the 1500s by two powerful Galway families. The resulting three-roofed shape and nearly square interior is quite unusual and unique!  Sadly, I somehow didn’t get a picture of that side of the church in its entirety, but only each of the three sections. Oh well.  Here the sections are left to right.

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The exterior ornamentation was not what I’m used to seeing on large churches.

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It was all very detailed – look at this large window, and then the tiny little carvings.

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The gargoyles were pretty interesting.  There was one of a bird, one of a horse, and even one carved into the shape of a manticore, a mythical animal with the body of a lion, the head of a man, and the sting of a scorpion.

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The term “collegiate church” was confusing to me, because Saint Nicholas isn’t associated with any university or college. I later learned that a collegiate church is one where the daily worship and running of the church is maintained by a unified group of non-monastic, self-governing clerics, also known as “a college of canons.”

The interior was painted a warm yellow color, which felt especially cozy compared to the rain that was starting to lash outside.

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Interestingly enough, Christopher Columbus visited here in 1477. Another famous group of visitors were the troops of Oliver Cromwell in 1652, but they were far less welcome than Christopher Columbus. They used the church as a stable for their horses, and are also blamed for defacing many of the original carved figures inside the church.

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There were quite a few tombstones forming the floor of the church.

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And I also found a very old chest against the wall.

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The church closed early that day because the caretaker didn’t want lots of tourists coming in to find shelter from the rain and staying a long time, so even though I only had time for these few interior pictures, I’m glad we made it to see this church!

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