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Kilconnell Friary Church
 

County

Galway

Coordinates

N 53° 19' 57.8"   W 008° 24' 03.7"

Nearest town

Ballinasloe

Grid Ref.

M 73327 31441

Map No.

47

Elevation a.s.l. (m)

98

Date of visit

Monday 10 September 2012

GPS Accuracy (m)

4
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The access to the friary is from the southwest.


Kilconnell Friary was founded in 1353 by William O’Kelly, Lord of Hy Many, on the site of an earlier monastery that was built by St. Conall in the 6th century.
The peculiar feature of the church is that the chancel is aligned to the southeast (140°).
The original structure of the church had only a nave and a chancel. The southwest transept and the tower were added later. Many of the pillars in the cloister have masons' marks on them. Masons used to mark their works with a distinctive symbol so to indentify their work and get payed for it.
The friary was suppressed in 1541, but the section of the church was restored in 1604. It was attacked by Cromwell in 1650, but the friars stayed here until the spring of 1691, when the friary was eventually closed.
The northeast wall of the nave has a wonderful tomb with six amazing carvings of saints and a nice canopy in the Flamboyant Gothic style. Above the canopy there are two others carvings of St. Francis of Assisi and St. Laurence. Other similar tombs are on the northeast and southwest walls of the nave, but they are less decorated.
The southwest transept has a beautiful three-light traceried southwest window and a southeast chapel with a double piscina.
The central tower is in rather good conditions and has a crenellated top. The ceiling of the tower at the level of the church roof has a ribbed vault and at the bottom of each corbel between the vault and the church walls there's a carved figure, but the most unusual of all is an owl at the west corner.
In the graveyard around and inside the church there are several ancient burials. The oldest one that we found here dates to September 17th, 1667, that is 345 years before our visit.


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