Kilcrea Friary Church




N 51° 51' 53.8"   W 008° 42' 41.7"

Nearest town


Grid Ref.

W 51033 68259

Map No.


Elevation a.s.l. (m)


Date of visit

Friday 21 June 2013

GPS Accuracy (m)

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The friary is at the end of a grassy pathway lined by two row of trees.

This Franciscan friary is at the end of a 100 metres long grassy pathway lined by two row of trees. I have to admit that the approach to the building is one of the finest I ever saw.
It was built in 1465 by Cormac Láidir MacCárthaig, Lord of Muskerry, on the site of an earlier church. Its name derives from Cill Chré, the Church of Cré, a woman who founded a hermitage many years before the arrival of the Franciscan friars.
Tha friary has a square plan.
It is a nave and chancel church with a crossing tower. The south side of the nave is divided from the south aisle by an arcade. Before the crossing tower there's the south transept also with an arcade. The altar is aligned to the east (90°).
The cloister is on the north side of the church, along with the other domestic buildings, like the chapter room along the east range of the cloister, the refectory and the dormitory along the north range of the cloister. Next to the chancel is the sacristy, a later addition to the building, and above it was the scriptorium, the room where the monks wrote their manuscripts. One of this masterpiece is preserved in Rennes, France.
Inside the church, in the southest corner of the nave, at the feet of the tower, there's the burial place of Art Ó Laoire, who died in 1773, aged 27. Art Ó Laoire was an Irish Catholic and a captain in the Hungarian Hussars Regiment of the army of Maria Theresa of Austria. He was killed by a soldier of Abraham Morris, an arrogant Protestant Englishman who had Art proclaimed an outlaw by the magistrates for not selling his horse to Morris for £5. The Penal Laws said that a Catholic could not refuse to sell his horse to a Protestant if offered £5, regardless of the value of the horse. Art's wife, Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill, wrote a poem for him and also the epitaph on his grave.
In the northeast corner of the chancel is the burial place of the founder Cormac Láidir MacCárthaig. A plaque into a niche remembers him as the founder of the monastery.
Kilcrea was attacked several times during the years of the suppression of the monastery, and in 1650 it was used as a garrison by the Cromwellian soldiers.

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