Roscommon Town Heritage
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History & Heritage > Buildings > St Comans Abbey

St Comans Abbey

St. Comain’s Abbey

It appears that the history of St. Comain and his Abbey have been lost in the mists of time. If as suggested he was a disciple of St. Finian of Clonard, the son of Fealcon and Scribside a royal family of Ulster and was sent into Connaught as a missionary by St. Finian, then there is little doubt that the Abbey of Roscommon was founded in the early part of the sixth century. Unfortunately there is no mention of this in the Annals of the Four Masters. However, there are other sources O’Cleary for one, who was of the opinion that Comain was a disciple of St. Finian of Clonard, and was a young man in the year 550 and adds that the year of his death unknown. The same is stated in an extract given from an old “Life of Coman” by Ussher, in Primrd, page 1066, so that, if we may rely upon these authorities, it is quite evident that the Coman who died in 742 or 746 (see Annals of the Four Masters, page 343 and 349), was not the Coman who founded Roscommon, but a namesake.

It would appear that the site of the current Coman’s Church (Church of Ireland) in Roscommon Town, is the site of the original Abbey and that there has been continuous Christian worship on this site since the middle of the sixth century AD.

This church is regarded as one of the oldest, if not the most ancient still been used for the purpose for which it was intended. Situated at the top of Henry Street, with an entrance from the street named after it – Church Street – a further proof of the antiquity of the building as we have Abbey Street connected with the old Abbey. In the absence of any reliable records we have to fall back on tradition, which states that the present Protestant Church was erected on the site of St. Coman’s Abbey, and that portions of the material was utilized by the builders in the erection of the Church. Some of the stone work used is clearly first millennium, probably 6th century, see entrance to church and windows in the tower, and a filled in entrance to the rear of the tower. The window above the Alter is believed to be of the 16th century.

The present Church was most likely built between 300 and 400 years ago. The dates on the tombstones in the graveyard adjacent can be quoted in support of this, as several of them date back to early in the 1600’s.


Coman's Abbey