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Kilmallock Friary Church
 

County

Limerick

Coordinates

N 52° 24' 09.3"   W 008° 34' 29.9"

Nearest town

Kilmallock

Grid Ref.

R 60916 28000

Map No.

73

Elevation a.s.l. (m)

89

Date of visit

Friday 28 June 2013

GPS Accuracy (m)

3
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The friary is to the north of Kilmallock, on the right bank of the river Lúbach which is crossed by the timber bridge visible in the photo.


The Dominican Friary in Kilmallock is also known as St. Saviour's Priory. It was founded in the 1291 by Gilbert FitzJohn FitzGerald (ancestor of the White Knights) who invited the Dominicans to the monastery. The FitzGerald family was the main benefactor of the friary, and when in 1320 the friary was enlarged Maurice FitzGerald (the first White Knight) became the main patron.
The Bishop of Limerick ejected the friars from the friary following their arrival because they had not asked for his permission, but a royal enquiry had their rights restored, so they were able to return to the friary where they remained until 1541, when all the monasteries were dissolved under king Henry VIII. In 1622 the friars returned to the monastery, but in 1648 Cromwell's army attacked and sacked the place. The friars fled the place never to return, although some of them remained in the area and continued the religious services in hidden spots. In 1756 only three friars were in the friary and in 1790 the monastery was eventually abandoned for good.
The friary is in a field to the north of the town of Kilmallock, on the right bank of the river Lúbach. A timber bridge crosses the river and allows visitors to reach the friary.
The church is a nave and chancel structure, both from the 13th century. In the 14th century a south transept, the crossing tower and the south aisle were added. The south window in the transept has a beautiful tracery. Unfortunately nothing remains of the arcades that divided the nave from the south aisle. The tower is mostly collapsed.
In the chancel, which is aligned to the east (80°), there's a fine five-light window which is considered one of the finest in Ireland. Other six lancet windows are in the south wall of the chancel.
To the north there's the cloister but, as it often happens, only the north section of it is intact. Most of the domestic buildings around the cloister were changed during the 15th century.
There's a plaque dedicated to the Burgatt family on the north wall of the chancel.
In the centre of the chancel there's the tomb of the second to last White Knight, Edmund FitzJohn FitzGibbon. The slab of his tomb is broken in two and has a small hollow, caused by dripping water, which is called the braon shinsior. Edmund was loyal to the Queen Elizabeth I, daughter of Henry VIII. Because he mistreated his fellow Catholics it is believed that God's displeasure for his behaviour is expressed through the disgrace happened to his burial.


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