Timoleague Friary Church




N 51° 38' 34.2"   W 008° 45' 49.3"

Nearest town


Grid Ref.

W 47183 43582

Map No.


Elevation a.s.l. (m)


Date of visit

Saturday 22 June 2013

GPS Accuracy (m)

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The wonderful ruins of the Timoleague Friary seen from the south-southwest.

The Friary at Timoleague was founded in 1240 by the Franciscan order on the site of a previous monastic site founded by St. Molaga in the 6th century. This settlement gave the name at the village, Tigh Molaga, the House of Molaga. According to the Annals by the Four Masters, the monastery at Timoleague was founded in 1240 by the MacCarthy Reagh family. In 1312 Donal Glas MacCarthy extended the building, and the same thing did the Normans in the 16th century. The dissolution of the monastery under king Henry VIII had the friars dispersed but they returned in 1604.
The English attacked the friary in 1612 and destroyed almost everything, including the stained glass windows.
The English attacked the friary again along with the town in 1642 and burned both the church and the houses of the village.
The church has a nave and a chancel, with an arcade that divides the nave from the southeast aisle. The southeast transept has a northeast chapel. The chancel is aligned to northeast (60°). Between the chancel and the nave is the tower built at the end of the 15th century by Edmund de Corcey, Bishop of Clogher. He also built the dormitory, infirmary and library. The cloister area is at the northwest of the tower, and around it there are the domestic buildings, including a guest room building. The structure of the friary is quite complicated, with a long extension of the northwest domestic building and a southwest enclosed graveyard.
Outside the church is the grave of Seán Ó Coileáin (1754-1817), poet and school teacher, who, in one of his poems ("Machnamh an Duine Dhoilíosaigh", 1813), lamented the destruction of the friary. The epitaph on his tomb carries an inscription with words of sorrow for the fate of what he reputed to be a treasure of this part of Ireland.
We arrived at the church late in the afternoon with a perfect light to make most of the details stand out. A group of teenagers was playing inside the building, but they were very quiet and also so kind to leave the place when they saw that I was taking the photos. Unfortunately one of the girls of the group hit a stone of the structure with her head and injured herself.

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