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Donegal Friary Church
 

County

Donegal

Coordinates

N 54° 39' 01.4"   W 008° 06' 54.8"

Nearest town

Donegal

Grid Ref.

G 92611 78037

Map No.

11

Elevation a.s.l. (m)

11

Date of visit

Friday 3 June 2011

GPS Accuracy (m)

6
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A complete view of the ruins.


The ruins of this friary stand close to the modern harbour, a few metres west of the tourist office. Though we stopped in Donegal Town many times before, we only realized that a friary was here in 2002, when we visited it on May 8th. That time we saw it by pure chance when we parked the car in front of the tourist office to take a walk in town.
The friary was founded in 1474 by the first Red Hugh O'Donnell and his wife Nuala O'Brien. It survived until it was plundered by the English in 1588. In this occasion the friars were driven out, but they returned in 1592 when the second Red Hugh O'Donnell fought back the English. The friars repaired the friary but it was destroyed again in 1601 by the explosion of the gunpowder store during a siege by the English.
The community of friars wandered from place to place, but remained active and between 1632 and 1636 four scholars led by brother Michael O'Cleary compiled the Annals of Four Masters, the book that is still considered one of the most important sources for Irish history.
The buildings are very ruinous and very little details remain today to see. The position of the friary is beautiful, overlooking the town bay.
The chancel looks east (80°).
Judging by the fact that at least 3 steps are missing in a staircase and that the cloister is half buried in its lower part, I can say that the ground has grown by at least 50 centimetres since the friary was built.


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