Photographer's Note

The largest, best preserved and most complete of Franciscan abbey ruins in Ireland. The abbey was most likely founded in 1351 by the then Archbishop of Tuam Dr. Malachy MacHugh. Around 1473, a delegation of Franciscans from Ross Errilly went to Donegal at the request of the Tyrconnell clan and founded the Donegal Friary, where the Four Masters would later write their famous Annals. The friary was suppressed by Henry VIII and the friars departed. In 1538, English authorities imprisoned two hundred of the monks. At the beginning of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, the abbey was given to Richard Burgh, the 2nd Earl of Clanrickarde. He was a descendant of the de Burghs who had helped found the abbey, quietly gave it back to the Franciscans. In 1572, an enclosing ditch and wall were constructed around the friary. In 1584, the English crown again confiscated the monastery from the Franciscans and gave it to an English noble who evicted the monks and plundered the building's contents. In 1586, the Earl of Clanrickarde purchased the monastery and again returned it to the Franciscans. By the end of the century, however, the crown had once again expelled the monks and converted the monastery into an English garrison for use during the Nine Years' War. The friary changed hands many times. By 1801, only three monks remained.

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