Franciscan Friary (Grey Friars) Church




N 52° 15' 37.5"   W 007° 06' 24.48"

Nearest town


Grid Ref.

S 60975 12455

Map No.


Elevation a.s.l. (m)


Date of visit

Thursday 7 June 2018

GPS Accuracy (m)

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The west doorway is locked.

This friary, probably the first Franciscan foundation in Ireland, was built around 1241 by the Anglo-Norman knight Sir Hugh Purcell, whose tomb is in the church.
The nave and chancel date from this period. In the 14th century the Lady Chapel was added, and the central bell tower with a stepped parapet was built in the 15th century.
The church also had two halls, a kitchen, a bake house, six chambers, two stables, four cellars, a garden to the east and, to the north, a cloister and the living quarters. There was a cemetery to the south.

The friars of this settlement would wear un-dyed and unbleached cloths, so in its early years the friary was known with the name Grey Friars'.

During the repression of the Irish Rebellion in 1394, king Richard II used the church as a court. And Turloch O'Connor Don of Connaught, one of the last High King of Ireland's descendants, came here to pay homage to king Richard II.
The friary was suppressed in 1540 under king Henry VIII, and five years later Henry Walsh, a local merchant, received the permission from the king to establish a hospital in the nave and chapel. There were two rooms for men and women, and also an altar to say mass for the Catholic widows.

When Prince William of Orange became King of Ireland in 1690, he invited the French Protestants over to Ireland. They were given part of this friary for their worship, that's why this friary is also known as the French Church.

Unfortunately on the time of our visit the church wasn't accessible, so we could only look through the locked gates.
There's a number of wonderful medieval grave slabs set vertically against the north wall.

The building is aligned to the east (90°).

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