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Buttevant Friary Church
 

County

Cork

Coordinates

N 52° 13' 53.28"   W 008° 40' 09.96"

Nearest town

Buttevant

Grid Ref.

R 54271 09070

Map No.

73

Elevation a.s.l. (m)

100

Date of visit

Friday 17 June 2016

GPS Accuracy (m)

3
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The west (265°) wall of the church. There are a pointed arch doorway and two double windows high in the gable.


Buttevant does not love us!
We tried to visit the friary last year, but a woman asked us to leave because the churchyard was going to close.
This time we found the gate open, but the friary was partly hidden by scaffoldings and nearly half of it was not accessible.

This friary was built between 1251 and 1279 by David de Barry, Lord of Buttevant, for the Franciscan friars, close to the right shore of River Awbeg. It consisted of a large church, a cloister to the north of the church, a chapter house and all the other typical domestic buildings. Today only the church survives, all the other buildings have disappeared and their place has now been taken by the surrounding graveyard.
The friary was dissolved in 1540, in the wake of the dissolution of monasteries under Henry VIII, but it seems that the friars remained until 1568, when the property of the building passed on to Viscount Barrymore. A new community of friars returned in 1608, and followed the monastic rules of their order in the strictest way.
The building is a long nave and chancel church with a south transept which has an addition in its east side.
The doorway in the west wall is pointed arch with three orders of arches with a moulding. Two two-light windows are built high in this gable. Into the north wall of the nave inside the church several fragments of the cloister have been set. In the south wall there are windows of different styles. The remains of a narrow staircase indicate the way up to an upper floor. At this spot there would have been the central tower of the friary, collapsed in 1814. The traces of its existence are still clear in the side walls. The inside of the nave has many burial markers both flat and standing. In the side walls there are some canopy tombs.
The most interesting part might be the south transept and its addition where some magnificent memorial slabs can be found. One dates to 1616, 400 years ago! Under the south window of the transept there are two plaques with beautiful carvings of a coat of arms. The canopy tomb in the addition to the transept has a wonderful scene of the crucifixion carved in bas-relief on a rectangular slab.
Through the scaffolding I caught a glimpse of the three east (85°) windows, but nothing more.

Not being able to visit the east section of the church was really disappointing! Hopefully in the future we'll be able to see the rest, if nothing else blocks us!


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