Ennis Friary Church




N 52° 50' 45.6"   W 008° 58' 54.18"

Nearest town


Grid Ref.

R 33868 77680

Map No.


Elevation a.s.l. (m)


Date of visit

Sunday 21 June 2015

GPS Accuracy (m)

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Seen from the outside it's a church like many others.

At last! After the first visit on June 28th, 1994, and the second visit on May 14th, 2002, it was about time we returned to Ennis Friary!
The church was a Franciscan Friary and was founded by Toirdelbach Ua Briain after 1284, though the first Franciscan friars were invited to Ireland in 1240 by Donnchadh Ua Briain. The chancel has a large east window with 5 tall lancets and 4 two-light windows in its south wall. The east window was embellished by blue stained glasses gifted by Toirdelbach Ua Briain at the end of the 13th century. A few years later Mac Cuinn MacNamara built a refectory.
In 1440 the north and west ranges were completed and the cloister arcade was added. About 20 years later the central tower and the south transept were built and in 1500 an extension to the south transept was added.
During the suppression of the monasteries, the friars of Ennis found protection under Murchadh Ua Briain who recognized the power of the Tudors, he was named 1st Earl of Thomond and had the power to give shelter to the friars, so the Franciscans weren't expelled until 1570 during the campaign of Sir Richard Bingham.
The friary has been restored and altered since our last visit. Namely the nave has been re-roofed and some of the fragments from decorations have been housed inside for safekeeping.
Under the central tower, in a niche into the north wall, there's a carved image of St. Francis who shows the stigmata while holding a cross-staff.
An arch between the nave and the south transept has a niche which houses a carving called "Ecce Homo". This shows Christ with the wounds of the crucifixion along with the instruments of his passion.
Other carvings are found under the central tower, like a bishop, the Virgin and Child, a crowned head and two ram heads.
There are a number of ancient and elegant tombs in the chancel, included a replica of the Creagh Tomb. The original is kept in the nave, safe under the roof. This tomb was erected in 1843 using fragments from two other tombs dating from 1470. These fragments show scenes from the Passion of Christ and Christ with the Twelve Apostles.
The sacristy houses some tombs under its barrel vaulted ceiling.
The cloister is incomplete, only two segments at the northwest corner survive.
The church was adapted for the Anglican worship at the end of the 17th century.
At the beginning of the 19th century the tower was remodeled with the addition of the spiked pinnacles at each top corner along with the parapet.
In 1871 the friary was abandoned and fell in ruins.
Fortunately it has been recovered and taken in the care of OPW.

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