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Sligo Abbey Church
 

County

Sligo

Coordinates

N 54° 16' 15.0"   W 008° 28' 13.6"

Nearest town

Sligo

Grid Ref.

G 69401 35878

Map No.

16

Elevation a.s.l. (m)

12

Date of visit

Tuesday 3 June 2014

GPS Accuracy (m)

3
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Upon entering the friary there are the remains of an ancient townhouse which was unrelated with the religious building.


Though this church is commonly known as Sligo Abbey it was a Dominican Friary.
It was founded in 1252 by Maurice FitzGerald who also founded the town of Sligo.
The church itself is a nave and chancel structure aligned to east (95°), the two sections were divided by a rare example of rood screen, which was built in the 15th century and has now been partially rebuilt, a feature not very common in the Irish churches.
In the nave there are seven elegant grave slabs set into the north wall and the wonderful burial place of O'Crean family, dated 1506, with a pointed arch canopy decorated with a fine tracery. The chest tomb is decorated with figures of saints beneath ornated cusped arches.
Past the rood screen is the belfry tower. In the chancel there are two slabs set into the north wall. In the south wall there are 5 windows and a family tomb. In the north wall is a recess with fragments of others slabs decorated with human and animal figures. Against the east wall, under the four lights window, there's a beautiful altar ornated with the same cusped arches of the O'Crean family, but with no saints. Above the altar in the south wall there's the magnificent tomb of the Sir Donagh O'Conor, Lord of Sligo, and his wife Lady Elinor Butler. The two figures kneel in prayer and around them symbols of death and afterlife, their coats of arms and a crucifixion complete the memorial.
Sir O'Conor had a good influence with Queen Elizabeth and this saved the friary from the dissolution and destruction.
Under the belfry tower there's a passage to north to the cloister, built in the 15th century, which survives for three quarters of its walks. The columns of the cloister walk are in different shapes and styles and some of them have small carving, like a human face, a ram's head and a Love Knot in the north walk.
North of the cloister on the first floor there was the refectory, where friars had their meals. At this level there's the Reader's Desk, from which the scriptures were read to friars during the meals or during the meditation in the cloister.
The friary continued to live until the 17th century.


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