Kilcorban Madonna

Medieval oak Madonna and Child

Christy Cunniffe

Kilcorban Madonna and Child.
Christy Cunniffe

This medieval religious object consists of a carved oak statue of the Madonna and Child. It dates to the late twelfth or early thirteenth century. It consists of an enthroned Madonna holding the Christ Child on her knees. In this form she is depicted as the Heavenly Queen. The elongated face of the Virgin and of the Child is a feature of this period. The other feature worth noting is that the Christ Child is nearly always depicted as much older than his year in order to show his great knowledge and power.

The statue is carved from oak with a hollow at the back from which the harder core was removed to stop splitting  as the wood shrunk. This piece was originally in the late medieval Lady Chapel attached to Kilcorban Third Order Dominican priory near Tynagh. A carved stone image of Our Lady is also displayed on the entrance pier to the chapel. The Kilcorban Madonna is also believed to have been in Pallas Castle or at least in the care of the Burkes of Pallas. It is now on display in the Clonfert Diocesan Museum in Loughrea.

It is a rare example of the type of statues and imagery that once adorned the medieval abbeys and churches of Co. Galway. It survived the Reformation, the Dissolution and later Penal Laws due to the watchful eye and benevolence of the De Burgos or Burkes – Earls of Clanrickard.

This page was added on 23/03/2017.

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