Franciscan Friary

We had planned to visit Kilconnell Friary on our way back to Dublin from Connemara, but after nearly three weeks of traveling around Clare, Mayo and Galway, I was wondering if it was fair to drag Debbie around yet another monastery but she still seemed pretty keen, so we took the small detour to Kilconnell. A short walk up a pathway, leading north from the town, brought us to the restored remains of this quite wonderful Friary. The monastery was founded here in 1353 by William O'Kelly, Lord of Ui Maine, probably on the site of an earlier monastery founded by St Conall in the 6th century. It is believed the Friary was reconstructed in 1414

Several more additions to the building took place over the coming centuries. The 37.5 metre length 15th century nave and chancel church has a centrally placed three storey tower that was added in the latter part of that century. To the north of the church are the remains of the cloister, only the east and south arcading are present. Other additions include the south aisle, the south transept, the sacristy and the much later O'Donnellan chapel. For both of us the real surprise was the amount of elaborate stone carving to be found here at Kilconnell.

To your left as you enter the church through the west doorway is a beautiful canopied late 15th century tomb with weepers, pictured above. The details are quite stunning, some of which can be seen below. There are six tombs in total, including the tomb of the O'Kelly sept, which can be found on the south wall of the chancel, and the O'Daly tomb. As we wandered around the friary we also found two gorgeous Piscinas. Another delight to be found at Kilconnell are the number of stones that bear the stonemason's mark, these were done to identify the work carried out by each mason in order to receive payment. An ancient field system also surrounds the monastery and it is believed there are three holy wells close by.

Tomb detail

Tomb detail

The superb stone carving on one of the two piscinas/sacraria present at Kilconnell

The second piscina/sacrarium

Cloister arcading

Cloister garth

Tower and arcading

Stone mason's mark

Stone mason's mark

Situated:Easy. From Ballinasloe travel west on the R348 for 12.5 Kilometres. Next to the right turn opposite Brodericks Pub is a laneway that takes you too the Friary.

Discovery Map 47: M 7730 3146. Last visit April 2012.

Longitude: 8° 24' 3" W

Latitude: 53° 19' 58" Nt

Google Map

Photos: Jim Dempsey and Deb Snelson.

Previous-----Home-----Next Page