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Killydonnell Friary Church
 

County

Donegal

Coordinates

N 55° 00' 41.28"   W 007° 36' 33.96"

Nearest town

Rathmelton

Grid Ref.

C 24989 18280

Map No.

6

Elevation a.s.l. (m)

52

Date of visit

Sunday 17 June 2018

GPS Accuracy (m)

3
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The access to the friary site is from the southwest.


In the early 16th century the O'Donnells built this friary for the Franciscan Friars on the site of an earlier church that was built by the O'Tonners. The site was a Viking settlement in the 10th century.
In 1561 King Shane O'Neill captured Calvagh O'Donnell and his wife Catherine MacLean, he carried them away and held them into captivity for three years. Calvagh was tortured during the whole captivity, Catherine was forced to be Shane's mistress and bore him several children
Niall O'Boyle, Bishop of Raphoe, held a Chapter here on September 23rd 1592.
In 1603, during the Plantation of Ulster, the friary and the lands were granted to Captain Basil Brooke.

The building consists of a nave and chancel church, with a south transept with two altar niches in the east wall. The church is aligned to the east-northeast (75°).
On the north side of the church there are the domestic buildings for the friars. These buildings were originally two storey high. One of these buildings was converted into a family vault for the Stewart family.

According to a legend, two raiders from county Tyrone arrived to Killydonnell and stole the bell. On their way back a storm came and the boat was capsized, the two raiders drowned and the bell sank into the sea. The legend has it that every seven years the bell tolls at midnight, and those who hear the bell tolling will die before the next toll.

There's a huge sense of peace and tranquillity among these ruins, which overlook Lough Swilly to the southeast.


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