Cormac's Chapel, County Tipperary
The Chapel, named after Cormac Mac Cárthaigh, the king of South Munster who commissioned it, is one of the earliest and best-preserved examples of early Irish Romanesque architecture.Consecrated in 1134, the exterior and chancel of the Chapel are decorated with round arches and chevron designs, and its steeply pitched roof is typical of the 12th Century Irish style. The sandstone Chapel is heavily decorated with carvings and its choir was, originally, covered from floor to ceiling with costly frescoes. Fragments of these can still be seen today. The arch leading to the choir was also decorated with a series of mysterious carved heads.
The two doorways of the Chapel are also heavily decorated, the best-preserved being the northern entrance. This served as the main door to the chapel until the Cathedral was built in the 13th Century and as such it is highly decorated with intricate carvings. There is a carving on the tympanum over the door of a centaur attacking a lion with arrows. The northern entrance is in a very good state of repair with the tall walls of the Cathedral beside it having shielded the chapel from 700 years of weathering.The door on the opposite, southern side also carried a creature on its tympanum, which today, along with its other decorations, is unfortunately badly eroded.
Placed at the western wall of the nave is a 12th Century sarcophagus, into which the body of Tadhg Mac Cárthaigh, brother of Cormac, was supposedly placed. The front panel of the tomb is partly damaged, but its intricate carvings that remain are in a good state of preservation. It shows beasts intertwined in the Scandinavian Urnes style, and the form created by the creatures is said to represent the concept of eternal life.
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