St Marys Athlone (Westmeath) County Westmeath

Share This:
Inchcleraun Monastic Site
Inchcleraun Monastic Site

Inchcleraun Monastic Site

Inchcleraun Monastic Site, also known as Quaker Island, is a beautiful island located in Lough Ree – one of three lakes on the River Shannon.

The island is named after Clothra, who was the sister of the legendary Queen Maeve of Connacht. Maeve is one of the protagonists of the great mythical saga, An Táin Bó Cuailnge or ‘The Cattle Raid of Cooley’.

The legend is the story of how Queen Maebh sought to take Donn Cuailnge, the Brown Bull of Cooley from the King of Ulster. Mighty battles were fought between the warriors of Ulster and of Connacht, the most famous of which was that between the hero Cú Chulainn and his foster brother Ferdia.

After the Táin, Maebh sought refuge on Inchcleraun. She was slain whilst swimming in Lough Ree, by a stone hurled from the mainland. Historical sources from the 11th century suggest that Maebh was killed by her vengeful nephew in response to her having had his mother, Clothra, murdered.


The feature that Inchcleraun is most famous for is the group of early Christian and medieval churches on the island. A monastery was founded here in c.540AD by St Diarmuid, who was the mentor of St Ciarán of Clonmacnois.

The monastery became an important centre of learning and pilgrimage, which lead to many important clan members being buried here, including those from the O’Farrell, the O’Quinn and O’Breen septs.

There are a substantial number of important ecclesiastic sites on this island, including an early ecclesiastical enclosure within which lies three churches and a priory.

The enclosure is surrounded by an oval dry-stone wall. Templedermot church, named after St. Diarmuid, situated in the south-east corner of the enclosure is the earliest church on the site. Other chapels on the site include:

The Church of the Dead, Templemurray church, the Lady Church or Teampall Muire, the Belfry Church and the 12th century Templemore Augustinian priory.


The island is only accessible by boat and is situated 10km south of Lanesborough and 15km north of Athlone. Boat hire is available both in Athlone, Carrick-on-Shannon and at Tarmonbarry/Clondra. Please note that the island lands are in private ownership.  

Please note that the farmland on the island is in private ownership and can only be accessed by boat / kayak.  Please see Lough Ree Access for All for details on booking a boat trip to the island.

Some communities associated with this building