Ennis Franciscan Friary

Map Reference: R339776 (1339, 1776)

Donnach O'Brian founded Ennis Frairy shortly before his death in 1242. It was substantially rebuilt by his successor, Turlough Mor O'Brien, towards the end of the 13th century. It was later to become a famous centre of learning. Pope Clement granted indulgences to the Friary in 1350 and 1375, at which time there were about 350 friars, as well as a flourishing and renowned school of 600 pupils. The cloister, to the north of the church, was added around 1400. It was probably in the second half of the 15th century that the fine west doorway abutting on to the street, the west window, and the windows in the south transept were inserted and the tower built. The nave of the church was dedicated to St Francis, and on the south-west face of the tower can be seen the figure of St Francis with the stigmata. There are several other good carvings including a small Ecce Homo. At the base of the jambs of the south doorway into the nave there are two fine inverted masks. There is very fine five-light east window. The most notable feature of the friary is the magnificent MacMahon tomb near the east end of the south wall. This has many carved panels depicting scenes from the Passion and Resurrection of Christ, as well as figures of saints, including Peter, Paul, Bartholomew and Matthew. The tomb was built about 1475 and restored in 1843. After the Dissolution the friary was reformed and became the last school of Catholic theology in Ireland to survive the Reformation. It was granted to the Earl of Thomond in 1578, and was the scene of the formal abolition of the old Irish Brehon Law in 1606. In 1615, the Friary became a parish church. The last of the old friars, Bruodin, died in 1617. A few friars returned in 1628, but were decimated and turned out by the Cromwellians in 1651. Again under Charles II the friars crept back, and in 1681 the transept was still roofed. By the end of the 17th century the friary was finally deserted, but in 1969 it was formally handed back to the guardianship of the Franciscans as an ecumenical gesture by the Church of Ireland.

Some views of the cloister

The carving of St Francis

One of the inverted masks at the south doorway

Ecce Homo

The MacMahon tomb

For more photographs of the MacMahon Tomb click HERE

For more examples of Franciscan Friaries click on the following links

Bonamargy, Co Antrim Armagh, Co Armagh Quin, Co Clare Buttevant, Co Cork Timoleague, Co Cork Claregalway, Co Galway Kilconnell, Co Galway Meelick, Co Galway Rosserrily, Co Galway Ardfert, Co Kerry Lislaughtin, Co Kerry Muckross, Co Kerry Castledermott, Co Kildare Creevelea, Co Leitrim Adare, Co Limerick Askeaton, Co Limerick Dundalk, Co Louth Moyne, Co Mayo Rosserk, Co Mayo Nenagh, Co Tipperary Roscrea, Co Tipperary

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