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Heritage Ireland

Creevelea Franciscan Friary

Magnificent ruins of the last Franciscan Friary founded in Ireland

Access available during daylight hours

See all opening times

Creevelea Franciscan Friary

Magnificent ruins of the last Franciscan Friary founded in Ireland

Access available during daylight hours

See all opening times

Admission

Free Admission

Getting here

Dromahair, Creevelea
Leitrim

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Creevelea Franciscan Friary

Located to the south west of the River Bonet, an important tributary of Lough Gill, Creevelea friary was founded for the Franciscan Order in 1508 by Margaret O’Brien of Thomond, wife of Eoghan O’Rourke, Lord of West Breifne, and was consecrated by Bishop Thomas Mac Brady, the Bishop of Kilmore, in 1511. Margaret was buried here in 1513 and Eoghan in 1528. The Annals of the Four Masters records that it was accidentally burned down in 1536, with the loss of many valuable books and sacred vessels. It was subsequently restored by the founders’ son, Bryan Ballach O’Rourke. The friars were expelled from the site at different times in the late 16th century, and in 1642 they were forced to leave again by Cromwellian soldiers. The friary was finally abandoned at the end of the 17th century.

 

Creevelea friary includes the remains of a chapter house, sacristy, bake house, scriptorium and other domestic offices, as well a church consisting of a nave, transept, choir and tower. During the 17th century, the massive bell-tower was converted into living quarters. The East Window of the church is of a particularly refined design. The church was covered with a thatched roof at one time in its history. Two carved images of Saint Francis of Assisi, one of him preaching to birds, can be seen in the cloister arcades and other beautifully carved decorations can be found in the church at the base of almost all of the window mullions.

 

As it was the last Franciscan friary to be built before the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII of England between 1536 and 1541, it is uniquely uniform in its architectural design and has none of the mix of progressive styles found in religious buildings of an older age which were developed in stages as their communities grew in number and wealth.

 

Protect our Past - Click here to read about the importance of protecting our country’s unique heritage sites

 This national monument is protected in accordance with the National Monuments Acts 1930 to 2014

Opening Times

Access available during daylight hours

Notice

Creevelea Abbey is a state-owned free National Monument in the care of the Office of Public Works

Contact

Dromahair, Creevelea
Leitrim

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