CELT document T300002-002

A History of the Franciscan Order in Ireland

 p.289 4:10

1. A History of the Franciscan Order in Ireland.
By very Rev. Donagh Mooney

Among the many treasures of priceless value to Ireland, which rest on the shelves of the Burgundian library i.e. the Royal Library in Brussels is a manuscript entitled: “A History of the Franciscan Order in Ireland”. It is numbered vol. vii. (3195),Number 3195 is given by L, but the MS number is 3497. and contains one hundred and one leaves, large folio, closely written on both sides. It appears to have been written by Father Anthony Purcell, a learned professor in the College of Louvain, from notes supplied by Father Donagh Mooney. The latter was for many years Provincial of the Irish Franciscans, and devoted what time he could spare from his duties to the collection of materials for a history of the Order in his native land. He visited Louvain in 1617, and confided the precious records to Father Purcell, with instructions to prepare them for publication. This manuscript was the result. 1

It cannot be called with accuracy, a “History of the Franciscan Order in Ireland”, as it is styled in the catalogue. It is rather a sketch of the different convents, and their  p.290 disastrous fate in the sixteenth century, with brief notices of members of the Order, eminent for learning or sanctity. The details are often meagre. It could not well be otherwise, considering the circumstances under which Father Mooney gathered his information. A violent persecution raged, and woe betide the friar who fell into the hands of the soldiers of Queen Elizabeth or James. “Hold me excused,” the good Father pathetically writes, “that I have not done better. But Church and State have been brought to ruin in this unhappy land, and I had to hurry through my visitation, surrounded by the alarms of persecution, so that I was unable to collect more than the fragments of what is necessary for such a work as this.” Imperfect as it may be, every lover of the Franciscan Order and of Ireland must be deeply grateful to the venerable priest for rescuing from destruction, under such difficulties and dangers, so many memorials of the past, which would otherwise have perished.

Father Mooney's manuscript has never been translated into English. It forms, indeed, the ground-work upon which Father Meehan has elaborated his charming book, The Rise and Fall of the Irish Franciscan Monasteries. But in writing that work he has only culled from our author those incidents and descriptions which pleased his fancy or suited his purpose, while he has introduced a large amount of material from other sources.

I am confident that the readers of the Tertiary will be pleased to have the graphic scenes and life-like pictures of this interesting manuscript placed before them. There are few counties in Ireland in which the ruins of a Franciscan monastery may not be found. Some almost perfect in their simple grandeur, needing, it would seem, but a roof to fit them once more for the abode of some pious brotherhood. Such are Quin, Timoleague, and many others which will occur to the minds of our readers. Of others there remain but crumbling walls and scattered stones,  p.291 as Donegal, around which cling, closer than the ivy, so many memories of the work done for Ireland. Some, alas! have been perverted into places of Protestant worship, and the bald religion of Henry VIII. is preached within those walls which once echoed to the living words of the children of St. Francis. While not a few, thank God, have never been wrested, or but for a time, from the possession of the Order. In Clonmel the square tower, erected six hundred years ago by the pious munificence of the people of the town, casts even to-day its protecting shadow over a church worthy of the ancient glory of the Irish Province. Cromwell stabled the horses of his troopers in the church of Wexford. Now the successors of the Franciscans whom he martyred preach the faith which he would have extinguished in blood in the very spot that he desecrated. The pages of Fr. Mooney give life to these venerable monuments of the past, and we rise from their perusal with a new interest in the vivid ruins of which he has so much to tell of.

I have added a few notes, which seem necessary for the elucidation of the text. These are signed L.

This book was composed by Br. Antony Purcell, in obedience to the command of the Very Rev. Father, Br. Donagh Mooney, Provincial Minister, of the Friars Minor, of the Regular Observance, in Ireland, on the 2nd of November, 1617, in the College of the Irish Friars at Louvain. Pious reader, in charity, pray for his soul.

Donagh Mooney

A History of the Franciscan Order in Ireland

1. The Very Rev. Donagh Mooney arranged the following particulars regarding the Franciscan Province of Ireland, while he was Provincial, and had come here to set in order the affairs of the College of St Antony.

There is only one Franciscan Province in Ireland. It held the thirteenth place in the order of antiquity and precedence in the lists of the Cismontane Provinces, approved of by the General Chapters of Mons Lucii, in 1467, and  p.292 Palentiola, in 1470. At present however, it occupies the seventeenth place, as appears from the catalogues of the Reformed Provinces, published in the Statutes of Barcelona, and sanctioned by the General Chapter of Toledo, in 1583. After careful inquiry, I can find no cause for this change of order but the following. Some Provinces of Germany and France were divided — Saxony into the Provinces of the Holy Cross and St. John the Baptist; France into those of France and of Paris; Tours into those of Tours and Poitiers. The number of Provinces being thus increased, it may have happened that some of the newly erected were placed immediately after those from which they had been separated. The order of precedence may have been changed in this manner, whether rightly or wrongly I leave others to decide.

The Franciscans arrived in Ireland and founded the Province in 1231. This is the date given in an ancient manuscript which I had an opportunity of consulting. The Dominicans had reached our shores a few years before, in 1226. Tradition, however, has it, that in 1214, while St. Francis yet lived, certain Franciscans, who had left Compostella while a convent was being built, landed in Ireland. 2 Whether this tradition, which is more generally received, or the authority of the manuscript I have quoted, is to be preferred, I leave to the investigation of others.

From the day in which the order of St. Francis took root in Ireland, it flourished exceedingly, and bore ample fruit, through the edifying lives and profitable teaching of its members. It drew towards it the devotion of the people in a greater degree than the other religious orders. This is evident from the fact that it possessed more convents than  p.293 any of the others, and was distinguished by a greater number of eminent men, many of whom were raised to the episcopal dignity, while others, not less pious and learned, humbly refused all ecclesiastical preferment. I may add that the principal nobility of the kingdom were so attached to the Franciscan Order, that it held at all times the first, and, in a certain sense, the only place in their love and veneration. Moreover, neither the tumult of war, nor confusion of civil strife (and Ireland has suffered most grievously from both since the coming of the English into the country) could disturb the religious peace, or relax the regular observance of community life among the brethren. This was true of city and country alike. They passed their lives in great austerity, detached from the world, but united among themselves in holy intercourse. Thus parties and factions who fought against each other with deadly hatred, respected the Franciscans, in all their quarrels, and never ceased to treat them with veneration.

This was especially remarkable some years past when Queen Elizabeth attempted to compel the Irish people to discard the Catholic Faith, when the Religious Orders were suppressed by law, and their monasteries and other property confiscated for the benefit of the Royal treasury. The Franciscan Order passed through that storm almost unscathed; whereas the members of the other Orders either took to flight or sought refuge outside the monastery, each with his own private friends. They received no novices, and in course of time had almost died out. In some of the chief cities, indeed, our convents were seized upon and profaned, by being converted to secular uses, our friars expelled by force, and in some cases offered violence, or even put to death. They remained undisturbed, however, in country places and in the more remote districts. They lived as before in their convents, celebrating the Divine Office, preaching to the people, and discharging all their other  p.294 duties. Novices were received and educated; the churches and other buildings were kept in good repair; and they looked upon it as a crime to conceal or put off the religious habit, even for an hour, no matter what the cause of fear might be. They held without fail their Provincial Chapters every three years, and fulfilled all the constitutions of the Order as perfectly as in the most peaceful times. If you ask me how this regularity could exist in the midst of such confusion and wickedness, I can only assign the following and such-like reasons.

First, then, as now, our Order possessed no temporal goods, while the chief motive which led the English Government to supress the Religious Orders was greed for riches. The Royal treasury could gain little from the confiscating of our houses, and the avaricious courtiers who scrambled for the spoils naturally preferred an abbey with farms, demesnes, and rich revenues to one of our poor monasteries, where his sole gain would be the few acres occupied by the site, and naked walls. Our convents in the more important cities were, as I have said, seized upon at the first outburst of persecution. Some of them were reduced to a heap of ruins, others converted to secular uses, while the friars were expelled or murdered. But in many places there was scarcely anyone who would think of molesting us. In others, certain of the more prudent Catholics anticipated the malice of the heretics by making terms with those whom they considered most likely to obtain possession of our convents, and redeeming them at their own expense. This they did to preserve the graves of their ancestors from desecration and to secure for the friars, so far as they possibly could peace and safety.

Another reason was that the Franciscans were always greatly detached from the world, and looked upon almost as fools in worldly matters, while even the heretics regarded them as singularly holy in the things of God, and worthy of  p.295 veneration for the piety and austerity of their lives. Thus it happened that not alone could they whistle before the robbers, like the traveller with an empty purse, but their innocence closed the mouths of the fierce beasts ready to devour them, and preserved them uninjured, as it preserved Daniel in the Lion's Den. Often was it seen that the most bitter enemies of the Catholic Faith (many of whom, however, would say that they had no desire to molest all Catholics and ecclesiastics, but only such as disturbed the peace. Whether this was really the case, or mere hypocrisy on their part, I know not) gave to the Franciscans not only kind words, promises of safety, and such-like in secret, but even in public bestowed alms upon them, without any concealment whatsoever. It was lamentable, they declared, that such good-living men should refuse to embrace the royal religion through attachment to the Popish cause, and should succeed, above, all others, in turning away from it those who might otherwise adopt it; yet their simple upright lives and untiring zeal atoned for much, and if the Government were disposed to endure the presence of any Popish ecclesiastics in Ireland, the friars of St. Francis should be tolerated above all others.

There was a third cause, which was even more efficacious that the preceding. Very many of the nobility throughout the kingdom held the monasteries of our Orders as dear to them as their own personal property. They had been founded by their predecessors. There was the burial-place of their families. There they hoped to rest themselves. The nobles themselves, moreover, united to the friars in the most intimate friendship, and could not imagine how they were to exist without them. The Franciscans, had therefore, the chief men of the nation, in peace with the English or in war, ever active in their interests. In war, they defended them by force of arms. In peace, they insisted on favourable conditions being granted them. While sometimes, with  p.296 munificent generosity, they bought oil, at their own cost, the enemy that harassed them. The consequences of the late war afford abundant proof of the truth of this. Those heroes, the Princes O'Neill and O'Donnell, with other nobles of the kingdom, waged war against Queen Elizabeth in defence of the faith; for they fought not so much for their wives and children, and for their temporal possessions, as for the liberty of their country, the freedom of Catholic worship, and the protection of the priesthood, especially of the members of our Order, to whom they were most strongly attached. In this just cause there was no danger which they feared to meet. They were successful for a time, but ultimately were compelled to conclude a peace with James, the present king of England, one of the conditions of which was liberty for the practice of the Catholic religion. But the unfortunate princes were betrayed, the promises made to them broken, and they were forced to fly from Ireland. The Franciscans, as well as the other ecclesiastics, being thus deprived of the protection of these powerful friends, feel now the effects of the malice and tyranny of the heretics more severely than in any time past. So much so, that at present in most parts of Ireland the friars can with difficulty live in concealment; whereas, before the flight of these nobles, they dwelt openly in their convents, under their protection, were able to observe the usages of religious life, and perform the Divine services with becoming solemnity.

The fourth cause of the preservation of our Order in Ireland, a cause more potent than any other, is the merciful providence of our good God, who, as He ever speaketh the truth, has graciously fulfilled in us the promise He made to our Seraphic Father, that the Order would continue to exist for all time. Nor have we any doubt that God will sustain us, and even multiply us from day to day if needful, so long as we shall be necessary or useful labourers in His vineyard of Ireland, and live purely and religiously according  p.297 to our holy state. Here is a proof of my assertion. Since the foundation of the Province of Ireland, we were never so few in number as at present, yet (the Lord be praised) we count one hundred and twenty, of whom thirty-five are preachers, who labour arduously and with great fruit in this vineyard of the Lord. 3 Let me add another argument in evident confirmation of God's providence towards us in this matter, Philip III, King of Spain, has granted us the College of St. Antony, at Louvain, with a certain allowance for our support. So that at the very time in which the reception of novices and the education of our students were rendered impossible in our own country by the action of the English Government, we are enabled to do both through the generosity of the Spanish monarch. We have now more than forty members of the Order at St. Antony's, devoting themselves to study and the practices of piety, all of whom expect to return to their native land in due course. These are not included in the hundred and twenty mentioned above.

 4:11 p.321

But let me return to our purpose. The Irish province has been governed at all times, even to the present day, by its own prelates and other superiors in regular succession, in accordance with the usages of the Order. When the reform 4 to more regular observance was introduced, many of the Irish communities adopted it of their own accord, and a number of new convents were built by the Observantines themselves. Some communities, however, refused to accept the reform until lately, and these Conventuals had provincials and local superiors of their own from the time of their separation from the Observantines. The latter, likewise, were governed by their own superiors, who were called vicar-provincials, until 1517, when Leo X. granted to that branch of the Order the right of electing their own general and provincials.

In course of time it came to pass that a large number of novices were received by the Observantines, and few or none at  p.322 all by the Conventuals, so that they had almost ceased to exist, while the former were in a most flourishing state. Their Provincial recognised the sad condition of the convents under his charge, and proceeded, with the consent of his Council, to the Chapter of the Observantines which was then being held. He there resigned his position, handed his seal of office to the Provincial who presided, and accepted the reform for himself and his brethren. Thus the Province was once again united. The surviving Conventuals submitted themselves of their own accord, to the jurisdiction of the Observantine Provincial. There were a few, it must be said, who, unwilling to be subjected to any observance, took advantage of the liberty which the spread of heresy allowed them and became apsostates from the Order. The Conventuals were distributed among the Observantine communities, and members of these appointed guardians of some of the convents which had belonged to the former. Special mention is made of two, Armagh and Monaghan. Twenty convents which had been occupied by one or the other branch, were abandoned on account of their dangerous proximity to the heretics, who were becoming more powerful day by day. In this manner the reform was adopted, with manifest advantage, by the whole Province of Ireland, and is preserved intact to the present day. Some of the Conventuals who had thus accepted the reform lived even to our time, and were men remarkable for their holy lives and happy deaths. None of them were re-professed on uniting themselves to the Observantines, except a few, who, in any time, made new professions perhaps because they had not before understood the nature of their obligations.

The Conventuals were called by that name, it is true, but I have been unable to find that they possessed revenues or lands repugnant to the constitutions of the Observantines. The exceptions were very few, indeed. This, of course, rendered it much easier for them to accept the reform. Their  p.323 records and official documents have perished by the ravages of time. So, too, have very many of ours. On this account I have been unable to ascertain, with few exceptions, the names of their superiors or the dates in which they held office. I have succeeded, however, in obtaining these particulars with regard to the Observantines, and will give later on a complete list, carried down to the present day.

In order that what I am about to write may be more clearly understood, I will first describe some of the ancient and modern divisions of the Kingdom of Ireland, then the archdioceses and dioceses, so that the situation of each of our convents may be seen at a glance. I will subjoin a list of the superiors who have governed the Province as Vicar-Provincials, and Provincials, as well as of the Commissaries who have been deputed by the General to act in his name. I will then give the number and names of all the convents, their founders, the date of their erection, and such other interesting matters as my researches have enabled me to place before the reader. I will afterwards treat the convents of the third Order, which were subject to our Provincial, in the same manner; and, finally, I will say a few words of the eminent men connected with the Order, and of some memorable facts which have come under by notice.

In conclusion, I beg of those who are better informed and who can add to what I have written, to do so for the glory of God. I also entreat my readers to hold me excused that I have not done better. The confusion of Church and State in this unhappy land is my apology. In making my visitations I have been compelled to hurry from convent to convent surrounded by the alarms of persecution, so that I have been unable to collect more than the fragments of the historical documents necessary for such a work as this.

2. The Divisions of the Kingdom of Ireland

The Kingdom of Ireland consists of one island, the largest of the ocean, except Great Britain, which includes  p.324 England and Scotland. It was formerly divided into territories corresponding to the divisions of the various races which occupied its soil at different times. The government was always monarchical, but there were a number of subordinate kings, each of whom ruled in his own district. In ancient times there were two divisions of Ireland of special importance. By the first of these the island was divided into two almost equal parts. The southern half called Leath-Mogha, comprised Leinster, the two Munsters, 5 and a part of Connaught. The northern half, called Leath-Cuinn, included Ulster, Meath, the greater portion of Connaught and a small extent of Leinster. By the other it was divided into five provinces, and the territory of Meath, which belonged of right to the reigning king, and was not looked upon as a province. Ulster is situated towards the north, Connaught towards the west, the two provinces at Munster, called East and West Munster, towards the south-west; Leinster towards the south-east, while Meath occupies the centre of the island, bordering on the five provinces, and reaching to the sea on the eastern side.

Another division has recently been made by the English, who have appointed royal officers to preside over certain localities. Thus Munster and Connaught are each governed by a president, and the whole kingdom has been divided into a large number of districts, each of which has been committed to the charge of an officer called a sheriff. These divisions are generally known by the name of counties.

Thus Meath has been divided into two counties, East and West Meath. The official business of the former is transacted in the Franciscan convent at Trim, and of the latter in the Dominican Convent at Mullingar.

Ulster has been divided into the County of the Town of Drogheda, the counties of Louth, the court of which sits at  p.325 Ardee, Armagh, Monaghan, Antrim, Down, Derry, Donegal, and Fermanagh.

The following counties belong to Connaught: — Sligo, Leitrim, Cavan. 6 In these the official business is transacted respectively in the Dominican Convent of Sligo and the Franciscan Convents of Creevlea and Cavan; Roscommon, Mayo and Galway. In this last the court is held in the very choir of the Franciscan church, and the judges sit on the high altar itself. How like unto the abomination of desolation set up in the holy places. The county of the town of Galway, the court of which is held in the town hall and Clare, 7 the court of which is held in the Franciscan Convent of Ennis.

The two Munsters comprise the following counties: — The County of the City of Limerick, Limerick, Kerry, Cork, the County of the City of Cork, Waterford, the County of the City of Waterford, Tipperary, or the County Palatine of Ormond as it is sometimes called, and the County of the Cross-lands of Tipperary, which had been lately formed. Before the spread of heresy this district was subject to the Archbishop of Cashel, whose officials exercised judicial powers within its borders. The English have now deprived the Archbishop of all jurisdiction, and erected the cross-lands into a county.

The following are the counties of Leinster: — Kilkenny and the County of the City of Kilkenny. The official business of the former is transacted in the Dominican Church of that city, and of the latter in the town hall; Carlow, the court of which holds its sittings at Ross; Wexford, the official assemblies of which meet in the Franciscan Convent at Enniscorthy; Wicklow, the court of which sits in the Franciscan convent of that town; Kildare, the court sitting  p.326 at Naas; King's County, the court sitting at Dangan; 8 Queen's County, the court at Fort-Leix; 9 Dublin, the court at Kilmainham; and the County of the City of Dublin, the court of which is held in the City Hall.

Thus the whole kingdom has been divided into counties, in accordance with the English mode of government. It is worthy of note that, where at all convenient, the official assemblies and courts of law, where all criminal cases are tried, even murder, and others in which the punishment is death, are held in the churches, those of St. Francis and St. Dominic being especially selected for profanation in this and other ways.

1. The Four Archdioceses of Ireland and their Suffragan Sees

The Archbishop of Armagh has his seat in Ulster and bears the title of Primate of all Ireland. The ecclesiastical province of which he is the head includes the whole of Ulster and Meath, with a considerable part of Connaught, and contains the following dioceses, some of which however, have been united: —

  1. Armagh. The last Archbishop, Edmond MacGauran, was martyred on the 3rd of July, 1593. His successor, Peter Lombard, yet lives.
  2. Dromore, in Ulster, now united to Armagh.
  3. Meath, embracing East and West Meath.
  4. Clonmacnoise, which the Protestants have united to Meath without any pontifical authority. The last bishop was Peter Wall, a Franciscan.
  5. Clogher, in Ulster.
  6. Down, in Ulster.
  7. Connor, in Ulster. These two have been united by provision of the Holy See. The last bishop was Conor  p.327 O'Devany, a Franciscan, who gained the glorious crown of martyrdom, by order of Arthur Chichester, in Dublin on the 1st February, 1612, according to the old style then in use in that part of Ireland.
  8. Derry, in Ulster. The last bishop was Redmond O'Gallagher, who was martyred on the 8th of March, 1609. He was then far advanced in years, and was considered to have been the oldest bishop in Europe, counting from the time of consecration.
  9. Raphoe, in Ulster. The last bishop was Neil O'Boyle, who died on the 6th of February, 1611. His predecessor was Malachy MacCongail.
  10. Ardagh, in Connaught (sic), comprising the county Longford.
  11. Kilmore in Connaught (sic). The last bishop was Nicholas MacBrady, a Franciscan, of whome I will speak later on. He was a holy man, and died full of years in 1607.

ERRATA — In last month's issue, p. 291, line 17, for “vivid,” read “ivied,” and line 18, for “tell of,” read “tell us.”

2. The Province of Dublin

 p.353 4:12

The Archbishop of Dublin is called Primate of Ireland. The ecclesiastical province comprises the whole of Leinster, and does not extend beyond its borders. The dioceses are as follow: —

  1. Dublin and
  2. Glendalough, which are now united. The last archbishop was Matthew de Oviedo, a member of our Order. The see at present occupied by his Grace Eugene Matthew, a man of distinguished life and learning worthy to have filled that high position in more prosperous times. He lives at present in Ireland, eluding, by God's help, the many snares set for him by the heretics. He labours unceasingly for the welfare of his diocese, which he watched over from his hiding-place with pastoral vigilance.
  3. Kildare. The last bishop was Thomas Leverous.
  4. Leighlin. The last bishop was a Franciscan, Francis de Ribera. He built at his own expense the infirmary of our convent at Antwerp. Being unable to reach Ireland, he lived there for many years until his death.
  5. Ferns. I have no knowledge of the bishops of this diocese.
  6.  p.354
  7. Ossory. The Chief residence of the bishop is at Kilkenny. The last Bishop was ...  10

3. The Province of Cashel

The ecclesiastical province of Cashel comprises Ormond, Desmond, and that part of Connaught which is called Thomond. It contains the following dioceses—

  1. Cashel.
  2. Emly. 11 These two are now united. Whether in perpetuity of for a time I know not. The present archbishop is David Kearney, who lives in Ireland, His predecessor was Dermot O'Hurley, who was crowned by a glorious martyrdom in the month of May, 1584, by the orders of the Lord Justice, Sir Henry Wallop.
  3. Waterford.
  4. Lismore. These two have been united for a long time.
  5. Cork. These two have also been united for many years. The last bishop was Dermot MacCraghe, a man of great prudence and most skilful in the administration of affairs. I saw him about the year 1599, and he lived for some time afterwards.
  6. Ross. Boetius 12 Egan was Bishop of this diocese. He was a member of our Order, and most active in the promotion of the Catholic cause. He was put to death in 1650, a noble martyr of the Faith.
  7. Ardfert.
  8. Kilfenora. The last bishop was a Franciscan, Hugh MacClanchy.
  9.  p.355
  10. Limerick.
  11. Killaloe. Conor Ryan was lately bishop of this acre. He belonged to our order, and lived about the year 1615.

4. The Province of Tuam

The ecclesiastical province of Tuam contains part of Connaught only, two dioceses of which belong to Armagh, and two to Cashel. The episcopal sees are as follow: —

  1. Tuam.
  2. Mayo.
  3. Annaghdown, near Galway. These three have been united for a long time. The last bishop of mayo was Patrick O'Hely, of whom mention is made in the chronicles of the Order. He received the glorious crown of martyrdom, along with his companion, Conor O'Rorke, also a Franciscan, at Kilmallock, in Munster, in 1570, by orders of William Drury, Lord Justice of Ireland under Queen Elizabeth. We will have occasion to speak of this hereafter. The present Archbishop of Tuam is Florence Conry, also a member of our Order. He was formerly Provincial of Ireland. We will also speak of him later on.
  4. Clonfert. The last bishop was Teige O'Farrell, a Dominican. He died at Kinsale, in 1601, while the Spanish troops, whom he and the Archbishop of Dublin were mainly instrumental in having sent to Ireland, to assist in carrying on the war for the Catholic faith, were closely besieged in that town by the English.
  5. Killala.
  6. Achonry. The last bishop was Own O'Hart, who assisted at the Council of Trent. I met him in 1597. He was then far advanced in years, but withal, full of vigour.
  7. Elphin. 13 I know nothing of this diocese.
  8.  p.356
  9. Kilmacduagh. The last bishop was Malachy O'Molony, who died about 1610, at an advanced age. He had ruled his diocese for many years in times of persecution, and had suffered imprisonment and other outrages at the hands of the Protestants. 14

Thus far I have jotted down what occurs to my memory regarding the dioceses of Ireland. Others may add facts of more importance. I do not presume on the extent of my knowledge, but can safely say that I have written nothing but what I have ascertained to be true.

I will now give the number and names of the convents of our Order in Ireland, pointing out the province, according to the ancient division of the country, and the county, according to the new, as well as the dioceses in which each is situated. I will then describe their condition in this present year, 1617, and set forth what particulars I have been able to collect regarding the founders and date of foundation of each. Let me first place before you the account of the province given by Bartholomew de Pisis in his Liber Conformitatum. Lib. Primus. Fructus et conformitas. 15 Many of the names, as it will be seen, are given in corrupt form. These I have corrected.

The province of Ireland is divided into five custodies. In the custody of Dalbinensis (Dublin) are the following convents: Dubina (Dublin), Kaldaria (Kildare), Clana (Clane), De Mortoto (Stradbally) 16, Deserti (Castledermot), Bachilo (Wicklow), Veiesercfordia (Wexford).


In the custody of Cashel are the convents of Casello (Cashel), Bullienia (I do not know to what place he refers unless it be Kilkenny17), Jochil (Youghal), Ross, Vacripordia (Waterford) and Clonmel.

In the custody of Cork are those of Cortigia ( Cork), Ardach ( Ardfert), Bachonia ( Buttevant), Luecia (Ath— 18) and Timoleague.

The following convents belong to the custody of Nenagh: Venath ( Nenagh), Clararoi (Clare-Galway19), Killeigh, Galway, Clonramada (Ennis), Blessivia (I do not know this place; I think it is Cavan20) and Armagh.

The following belong to the custody of Drogheda: De Ponte (Drogheda), Trun (Trim), Dundava (Dundalk), Malifarnam (Multifernam), Dunri (Down), Occagfregis (Carrickfergus).

I have thought it well to quote Pisanus thus far to show that these convents had been founded in his time, but he does not mention all. I will prove later on that he has omitted some which existed at that date, or has written their names in such a corrupt form that they cannot be identified. We can easily understand how scanty his information on the subject must have been.

I quote the following also from Pisanus: — “In this province of Ireland rest the remains of Nicholas de Gaulford (Waterford), who foretold the day of his death to his brethren' and John de Vassordia (Wexford), at whose grave the sick were restored to health, and the slain to life.”

I find in an old manuscript 21 written by Fr. John Clyn,  p.358 that at the Provincial Chapter held at Clane in 1345, four custodies only were allotted to Ireland. At the same time the convents of Kilkenny and New Ross were annexed to the custodies of Dublin.

This Fr. John Clyn belonged to the Conventual branch of the Order, and was guardian 22 of the convent of Carrick-on-Suir, which was given to us by James Butler, first Earl of Ormond, in 1336. Fr. Stephen de Barry was then Provincial, and William Naish, Custos. This was many years before the reform had been introduced.

I will now give as complete a list of the convents of our Order in Ireland as my information allows, assigning each to the province in which it is situated.

    There are eight Franciscan Convents in Ulster: — Drogheda, Dundalk, Monaghan, Armagh, Carrickfergus, Downpatrick, Donegal and Lisgoole.
    There are twelve convents in Connnaught: — Ballyrourke, called in Latin, Petra Patritii23; Cavan, Elphin, Moyne, Rosserilly, Baile-an-Chlair24, Galway, Kilconnell, Meelick, Kinalekin and Ennis. 25.
    There are twenty convents in the two Munsters: — Limerick, Adare, Asketin, Lislaghlin, Ardfert, Bantry, Sherkin Island, Irrelagh, 26Timoleague, Kilcrea, Cork, Buttevant or Kilnamulla, Youghal, Gallbally-Aherlow, Clonmel, Carrick-on-Suir, Waterford, Cashel, Roscrea, and Nenagh.
    There are twelve convents in Leinster: — New Ross, Kilkenny, Enniscorthy, Wexford, Castledermot, Stradbally, Killeigh, Kildare, Kilcullen, Clane, Dublin, Wicklow, and Monasteroris. 27
  • MEATH.
    There are only three convents in Meath: — Trim, Multifernam, and Athlone.
Thus the convents belonging to the Franciscan Province of Ireland number fifty-six. 28 To these must be added the College of St. Anthony at Louvain.

 5:12 p.353

3. The Convents of the Province of Munster

1. Limerick

The Convent of Limerick occupies a delightful position, on an island in the Shannon — a river, upon the beauties and excellencies of which I would wish to dilate, were it not beside the purpose. It stands on the bank of the river, close to the city walls, towards the east, having the Monastery of Holy Cross to the south, and that of St. Dominic to the north. The orchards and other possessions join those of the Dominicans and extend from the gate nearest their convent to the gate nearest to that of Holy Cross. The space thus enclosed would be quite sufficient for a new convent, for the roof of the old one has fallen in. The walls, which still stand, show it to have been of good size and well proportioned, but the building materials were of an inferior description, and the edifice is now threatened with ruin. It is said that the first founder was the Baron of Castleconnell, or some one of his family, which  p.354 of them I have been unable to discover, nor do I know the date of foundation. It was certainly the burial place of that noble family, though none of them have been interred within its walls for many years, for the place has been not only profaned, but has become the receptacle of the filth and refuse of the neighbourhood. A Protestant named Sexton, who had been secretary to the late Lord Deputy Chichester, now holds possession of our property, and has erected a tannery in the very monastery. No trace of the records, or precious movables remains. At present a few friars live in the city in a rented house, and give all the assistance possible to the people in their spiritual necessities. I preached there last year, and made three visitations of the place as Vicar and Provincial.

2. Adare

The Convent of Adare29 was one of the most celebrated in Munster. It is in the diocese of Limerick, about twelve miles west of that city, and stands on the bank of the Maige, about three miles from its junction with the Shannon.

I have found the following particulars relating to this convent in the book, which, according to the constitutions of the Order, as well as of the Province, should be read, in presence of the community, on each Friday of the year, that the memory of our departed benefactors might not be forgotten. This book is at present in possession of an old man named James Hickey, who had been Syndic of the convent: — “The Church of the Friars Minor at Adare was dedicated in honour of St. Michael the Archangel, on the 19th November, 1464, the Feast of St. Pontianus, Martyr, and St. Elizabeth, Widow, Thomas Earl of Kildare, and his wife Johanna, daughter of James, Earl of Desmond, built the church and a fourth part of the cloister at their own expense. They also furnished the windows of the church with glass, and presented the bell and two silver chalices. The convent was  p.355 accepted, on behalf of the Order, at the Provincial Chapter, held at Moyne, on the Feast of the Apostles SS. Peter and Paul, in the same year, and the brethren of the Family of the Observance entered into possession on the Feast of All Saints following. The church was consecrated in honour of St. Michael the Archangel, on his feast, in the year 1466. The following places, outside the church, were also consecrated that they might be used for the burial of the dead. The whole circuit of the cloister, inside and outside, both sacristies, and the entire cemetery, except a portion at the south, which was set aside for those who might die without the right to Christian burial.”

“The other parts of the edifice were built by the following: — The bell-tower, by Conor O'Sullivan, a pious and devout stranger who had settled amongst us (so the ancient book described him.) He also presented us with an excellent chalice, gilt with gold. Margaret Fitzgibbon, wife of Cunlaid O'Daly erected the great chapel. One of the small chapels was built by John, son of the Earl of Desmond; the other by Leogh de Tulcostyn, and Margaret, wife of Thomas Fitzmaurice. Donough O'Brien, son of Bryan Duv, of Ara and his wife built the dormitory. We owe another fourth part of the cloister to a Tertiary, Rory O'Dea, who also gave us a useful silver chalice. Another Tertiary, Marianus O'Hickey, erected the refectory, and the wooden choir at the north side. He entered the Order later on, and lived in this convent, having spent a most holy life. Donald, the son of O'Dea and Sabina, his wife, finished another fourth of the cloister. Edmond Thomas, Knight of the Glen, and his wife, Honora Fitzgibbon, erected the infirmary. The latter died on the 13th May, 1503. Johanna O'Loughlin, widow of Fitzgibbon, added ten feet to the sanctuary, under which she directed a burial place to be formed for herself. Conor O'Sullivan, who built the belfry, died on the16th January, 1492; Margaret Fitzgibbon, who built the Lady Chapel, on the 23rd January, 1483; Donough O'Brien, son of Bryan Duv who constructed the dormitory, on the vigil of St. Francis, 1502; Thomas Earl of Kildare, founder of the convent, on the 25th March, 1478; his wife, Johanna, on the  p.356 Feast of St. Antony of Padua, 1486. The first to receive the habit in this convent was Theoderic Fitzmaurice, who died on the 18th June, 1484. There lived here also another lay brother named Quirke, who was held in great esteem for his sanctity. He died on the 13th December, 1532. John, Prior of Holy Cross, Limerick, who was the “Ordinary Protector” of the Fathers of Adare, died on the 2nd August, 1531.”

The Most Rev. Raymond de Burgo, who was a member of the Observantine branch of the Franciscan Order, and Bishop of Emly, died on the 29th July, 1562, and was buried in Adare. It is believed that he was the last Bishop of that diocese. Some of the precious possessions of this Convent are yet in existence. There are at present in Cork, under the custody of Fr. Thomas Geraldine, a ciborium for the Blessed Sacrament, gilt with gold and of good workmanship; a silver processional cross, and six or seven chalices, some of which are also gilt with gold. The register is among the other registers of the Province. I have, also, seen a list of the sacred vestments, and was much surprised at the large number, but all these have perished under the decaying hand of time. The friars were driven from Adare during the war between the Earl of Desmond and Queen Elizabeth. The convent, which up to that time had been kept in excellent repair, was allowed to go to ruin. At present the roof has fallen in, but the walls stand, and the glass even is uninjured in some of the church windows.

Such is the meagre account I am able to give of Adare, but so great was the celebrity of this convent for the strict life and religious observance of its inmates, as well as for the beauty of its buildings and the piety of the people who dwelt in the neighbourhood, that I am convinced I could have collected many more circumstances worthy of record if I had had leisure to continue my investigations.

3. Lis-Laghtin

This Convent stands on an island in the Shannon, 30 and was  p.357 founded 31 for the Family of the Observantines. It has not been occupied by the friars for a long time. I have met an old lay brother who was professed there, but have never been in the place, and know nothing more about it, except that it is said that the situation is solitary and surrounded by woods.

4. Askeaton

The Convent of Askeaton32 is said to have been built; by the Earl of Desmond. It has not been inhabited by the friars for many years. In the war against the Geraldines of Munster the inmates were treated in a most barbarous manner by the English under Sir Nicholas Malby. Some of them were put to death for the faith. Among these martyrs of Christ was Father John Conor, whose remains were buried in the chapter-room. I have been unable to ascertain the names of the others.

5. Timoleague

 6:1 p.1

The convent of Timoleague is situated near the sea, in a maritime town of little importance, in the diocese of Ross and county of Cork. It was founded by Lord de Barry for the family of the Observance, on the site of one of his castles. I have been unable to ascertain the date. 33 It was the burial place of almost all the nobles of that country. The buildings are still standing, but in great need of repair. The cells in the dormitory have been broken down, and the materials removed. The floor of this portion of the house was supported on beams of carved oak. These, too, have been carried off, but the spoiler did not escape unpunished.


In the year 1596 Dr. Hanmer34 an English Minister, obtained permission from the Royal Council to make use of this wood-work in the erection of a house. He came to Timoleague, tore down the cells of the dormitory, and placed the beams he coveted on board a vessel in the harbour. He was about setting sail when a violent storm suddenly rose and overwhelmed the ship with all its cargo. This was the more remarkable from the fact that the port was well protected from the winds, and a shipwreck in its calm waters unknown. No wonder the people who had witnessed, or heard of the occurrence deemed it a signal manifestation of the Divine anger, on account of the sacrilege.

Some time before this Lyon, 35 the Protestant Bishop of Cork, who yet lives, set about building a mill. He required some iron for the machinery. The friars' mill was convenient. He broke it open and removed all the material he needed. Shortly afterwards a fierce flood rushed down the river, and swept away the Bishop's new mill. There were not a few who recognised in this the power of St. Francis, for they well  p.3 knew that he has often inflicted exemplary punishment upon those who have profaned, or plundered what has been dedicated to his service. Others held that it was a mere accident. These, however, had cause to change their minds before many weeks had passed. The Bishop came to the place fully determined to rebuild the mill. He ordered what remained of the machinery and the very mill stones belonging to the friars to be removed to the site he had fixed upon for the new building. He hired labourers and set them to work, but scarcely had they commenced, when he was stricken with such terror that he told them to desist. He afterwards publicly confessed, that he was impelled to this, not by any feeling of compassion for the friars, whose property he had taken possession of, but by a sudden fear that if he continued the work, some great evil would surely befall him. He was convinced, he said, that the flood which had swept away the mill on a former occasion was an effect of the power of St. Francis, and he dared not proceed further with his designs lest something worse should happen to him. He then went his way and left the mill unfinished. After this there were few indeed who did not look upon the whole circumstance as a miraculous interposition of Divine Providence.

On another occasion, in the year 1612, the same Dr. Lyon resolved to surprise, and capture if possible, the friars, and the multitude of devoted people whom he knew would assemble in the church of Timoleague for the celebration of the Divine service on Christmas night. He lived in the city of Cork, eighteen miles distant. It was therefore necessary to set out on the preceding day. This he determined to do, notwithstanding the remonstrances and entreaties of many of his friends, who expressed their belief that such deeds never pass unpunished. He mounted his horse, surrounded by a number of miscreants, whom he had selected to be his partners in this impiety and sacrilege. He had scarcely started on his journey when he was seized by a pain in the stomach, so violent that he had of necessity to alight and wrap himself in warm flannels. The pain passed away, and the warning from on High was unheeded. He muffled himself in heavier clothes, and again took his seat in the saddle. He had gone  p.4 but a little distance outside the city when another access of pain forced him to dismount a second time. He found relief after some delay, but even then, in opposition to the advice of his followers, he persisted in his wicked design. Having ridden for three or four miles the agony was renewed, and he found it impossible to advance another step. He then acknowledged that the hand of God was in these repeated attacks, and that it was in vain for him to contend against the Lord and St. Francis. Retracing his steps to Cork, he grew better and better as he approached the city — that is, as to his body, for as to his soul or as to sorrow for his sins, no improvement resulted from the bitter lesson. Some say, however, that he was less rabid in his persecution of the Franciscans from that time.

The following incident happened in Timoleague during the late war. A company of English soldiers consisting of one hundred foot and fifty horse, was marching in that direction. They approached the village, and saw with astonishment the elegantly built convent and well furnished church, the stained-glass windows, and beautiful paintings round the altars. The fury of the bigots was roused at the sight. They destroyed the paintings, broke the statues to pieces, and smashed the glass in the windows with stones. The carpenter, who had general charge of the repairs of the building, was present. Carried away by indignation and zeal, he broke out into the following appeal to St. Francis. — “Holy Father,” he exclaimed, “thy power is great before the Lord, and thou canst obtain whatsoever thou desirest. Now I swear that I will never work a single day in this your convent, nor help its inmates in any way unless you take vengeance on the sacrilegious ruffians who have profaned your church.” The soldiers having wrecked the church and monastery proceeded on their march the following day. They had not advanced far when they encountered Donnell O'Sullivan, a noble Irishman, who was then carrying on war against the English, in alliance with the other Catholic princes. He had somewhat less than eighty foot soldiers with him, yet he bravely charged the enemy, who numbered, as I have said, one hundred and fifty. His  p.5 victory was complete. Of the whole company but one escaped from the battlefield. 36

In this convent repose the remains of the holy martyr, the Rev. Owen MacEgan, who, while acting as chaplain to the Catholic army in 1602, was mortally wounded and left for dead on the field. He expired shortly afterwards with sentiments of great zeal and charity, in presence of the priests and doctors who attended him. These have declared, and confirmed their declaration by oath, that as he breathed forth his soul, an extraordinary brightness filled the place so that the light of the lamp was obscured, and a great joy gladdened their hearts. He was buried in the cloister, near the north-western angle. A small cross in the wall marks his resting-place.

Many were the excellent and devoted religious who lived and died in the Convent of Timoleague, but time, the great destroyer, has blotted out the memory of almost all. The following miracle is recorded of one of them, a holy and simple-minded priest, named Maurice O'Hickey. In the year 1595 a certain man lay ill unto death, without any hope from human aid. He sent for Fr. O'Hickey, and besought him to bless some water for him. He blessed it, and it was changed into most sweet and excellent milk. The sick man drank of it, and recovered his health in a marvellous manner. He lived for more than twenty years, until 1619. In the first year of my provincialship (1615) I made inquiry into the truth of this miracle, and ascertained that the man who had been cured had on several occasions borne witness to the fact, before a large number of people.

There are now but two friars in Timoleague, and even these have oftentimes to fly from the fury of their persecutors.

6. Ardfert

 6:2 p.33

The convent of Ardfert, 37 in the episcopal city of that name, in the county Kerry, was founded by the Baron of Lixnaw, otherwise called Fitzmaurice Kerry. The place has not been inhabited by the friars for many years, and the buildings are now in ruin.

It is the burial place of the present baron, as it was of his ancestors. On this account he promised me to purchase the grounds from the Englishman who has possession of them at present and to rebuild the convent. At his earnest and oft-repeated request I engaged to send him two members of the Order who would take up their residence in the ruined abbey. This I did the more willingly on account of the great zeal of the noble baron.


7. Bantry

I have never been in this convent 38, or the vicinity. It is at present unoccupied by the friars, and I know nothing regarding it worthy of relation. There is no doubt, however, that it was a convent of our Order, and I am sure many interesting details would be brought to light if inquiry were made. I unhappily, have not leisure to do so.

8. Irrelagh

The convent of Irrelagh. 39 occupies a most solitary position in a recess of Slievelogher, 40 near to Lough Lein. 41 Before the late war the buildings, including the ceilings and the glass in the windows were in an excellent state of preservation. Nothing seemed wanting. But at present it is partially in ruins, and has not been inhabited by the friars for many years. Great numbers are buried in the precincts, and a multitude of people yet assemble there for purposes of devotion, for it is remote from the inhabited districts, and seldom disturbed by incursions of the English heretics.

The structure is small but well built. There is an abundance of fish, and the friars own a weir on the river flowing  p.35 from Mangarsach. 42 An Englishman having obtained a grant of this convent from the king, the people of the neighbourhood offered to purchase it from him and rebuild it. To encourage them in this laudable undertaking, I appointed two friars to the place, and nominated a holy priest to act as Syndic.

The founder was the Prince of Desmond, MacCarthy More (If I mistake not). It is in the diocese of Ardfert.

9. Innis-Sherkin

The convent of Innis-Sherkin stands on an island in the sea at the entrance of Baltimore harbour. The O'Driscolls, who have a castle close beside, were its founders. 43 Its position in the open sea was of advantage in many ways, but, at the same time, most dangerous. The supply of fish and other products of the ocean were abundant. Indeed, the inmates could cast the line while walking in the garden, and catch fish in large numbers. On the other hand, it lay open to the ravages of pirates and marauders of all sorts. In fact, the first object of such gentry was the capture of this island, for the anchorage of Baltimore afforded them small security while an enemy occupied Innis-Sherkin. This exposed position of the convent led finally to its destruction.

On one occasion certain merchants from the city of Waterford entered the port, and were detained there for some time by contrary winds. The O'Driscoll was absent, and the garrison of the Castle, believing them to be pirates, or pretending to believe so, that they might have a pretext for plunder, attacked them and carried off some of their goods. They then allowed them to depart with their ships and what remained of their property. No sooner had the merchants returned to Waterford than the citizens armed a  p.36 number of vessels, and set sail for Innis-Sherkin. They stormed the island, destroyed the castle and convent, and returned to their own city with all the booty they could lay hands on. I do not know how they treated the Friars in person, but I have no doubt that they carried away everything of value they could find. In 1613 a citizen of Waterford, whose paternal grandfather had taken part in this expedition, gave up to me the great bell of the convent, which I handed over to the syndic of the friars in that city, who has it still in his possession. Having carried off the bell, it is not probable that they spared the chalices and other effects of the convent. But I found no trace of anything but the bell.

Since that time the convent has remained a ruin, and was never afterwards occupied by the friars. It is the common belief of the people of Waterford that none of those who took part in this act of sacrilege ever prospered in their undertakings, and that they either died without children or left them paupers. 44

10. Kilcrea

The convent of Kilcrea is built on the bank of the Bride, in the territory of Muskerry, and diocese of Cork, from which city it is distant seven Irish miles. It was founded by the Lords of Muskerry. I am not certain of the date, but it does not appear to be of great antiquity. 45 The structure, though small, is admirably adapted for a monastic establishment. The buildings have been preserved in complete repair to the present day, and lack nothing but the presence of the friars who are prevented from occupying the place, not alone by  p.37 the general persecution of the heretics, but more especially because Cormac M'Dermott, Lord of Muskerry, bound himself under legal penalties in 1614 not to suffer them to dwell in their ancient abode. They have not, however, deserted the district, and four Franciscans live in the vicinity of the convent, and impart what spiritual graces they find possible to the people of the surrounding country. The majority of the nobility of Muskerry have their burial places in Kilcrea, and are most careful in preserving the church and convent from injury. They are, indeed, worthy and generous benefactors of our Order, and have been so since we came among them.

Of the records of this convent I have been able to recover but these few. In the year 1584 a company of English soldiers passing through the district entered the church and commenced to pull down and hack to pieces the statues and paintings. Two of them climbed up to the place where an image of the crucifixion stood. It was a beautiful work of art, having on each arm of the cross an exquisite medallion wrought in gold and silver, representing one of the evangelists, and was of great value on account of the precious metal it contained, as well as of the skill of the artist. Each struggled to reach and seize upon the coveted spoil before the other. They finally came to blows, and both fell mortally wounded. One died that night, the other on the following day. Their fate was considered by all present a just retribution of Divine Providence.

The English soldiers made another attack on the convent in 1599. Their arrival was unexpected, and Father Matthew O'Leyne, a venerable priest, about 67 years of age, was on the premises. He fled from the Monastery to escape their violence, but was overtaken while crossing the Bride, and fell pierced by their lances. He died, without doubt, a martyr's death for he was slain in hatred of the Faith.

Here also lived in the odour of sanctity a priest named Felim M'Carthy. Before entering religion he had been a member of the Third Order, and was remarkable for his hospitality, his charity to the poor, and his attention to the sick and wounded during the war. He quarrelled one day with  p.38 his step-brother, and in a moment of passion, hurled at him a large knife which he held in his hand. It struck the unfortunate man and killed him on the spot. Anxious to do penance for his crime, he determined to leave the world, and having obtained a dispensation from the irregularity which he had incurred by the murder, he besought our, brethren at Kilcrea to admit him into their community. He urged his petition with such perseverance and earnestness that he, at last, obtained his request. From the day he entered the monastery his life was spent in penance and tears, serving God in all humility, and weeping day and night for his sins. The Lord vouchsafed to declare his complete reconciliation with him by two wonderful signs. In his extreme old age the joints of his fingers, except the index, became so stiff and contracted that he could not extend or make any use of them. This and the thumb of both hands, with which he offered the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and touched the Adorable Sacrament, retained their full strength and flexibility. All who observed this strange fact came to the conclusion that the hand which had shed human blood had lost its strength by a just judgment, and that the first fingers retained their power by virtue of the Unbloody Sacrifice which they had so often assisted in offering. The other sign of God's mercy was this. While the holy man lay dying in the infirmary, the people of the surrounding country beheld the convent light up as if it were in flames. A crowd gathered from all sides. There was no sign of fire, but the man of God had died at the very time in which they had seen the flames rise up towards heaven. They returned to their homes glorifying the Lord, who had deigned to show forth by this marvellous sign how pleasing to Him had been the life of His servant.

Inside the cloister, at the entrance of the chapter room, rests the body of the venerable Father Teige O'Sullivan, who died on the 17th of December, 1597. He was a distinguished preacher, and had been most successful in his missionary labours throughout a great part of Ireland, especially in those districts which were more difficult of access on account of the forests, and therefore more lawless, and frequented by robbers and abandoned women. Many of these outcasts were brought  p.39 back to the paths of virtue by his admonitions and exhortations so that the light of his good example shone through all the kingdom. He was the faithful adviser of Dr. Mac Creagh, Bishop of Cork, who undertook nothing of importance without his counsel.

Many were the plots hatched against his life and liberty by the Protestants. They were offered a reward for his capture. On this account a number of evil-minded men were constantly on the watch to seize him and hand him over to the English authorities. One day, while travelling through the County Cork, he was suddenly surrounded by a number of these ruffians. Now that they had met him, they changed colour, as if they feared to execute their wicked design. “Friends,” he said “consider well what you have come here to do. Carry out your purpose if you so determine, I am ready, if such be the will of God.” They were astounded at his words, believing that he had come to the knowledge of their project by divine revelation and not daring to lay hands on the holy man, suffered him to proceed unmolested.

On another occasion he was pursued, in the same county, by a company of English troopers. Approaching a cross on the wayside he besought God that through the virtue of His Holy Cross those enemies might not be permitted to pass that sacred sign. Wonderful to relate, when the horsemen reached the cross they could not advance a step beyond it. They saw object of their pursuit a short distance in front, but try as they would they found it impossible to proceed. Thus the servant of God escaped their hands.

Fr. O'Sullivan died at a distance from the convent of Kilcrea, in a place where he had been labouring for the edifices of the people. The whole country was then so devastated by war, that the public roads could scarcely be traced by daylight. The Catholics, among whom he had died, determined to bury him with his brethren. They dared not attempt this in an open manner, so, when night fell, the body was placed upon a horse, and accompanied by the best guides in the locality, the funeral party set out on their journey. The darkness was intense, and after a short time the way was lost. They knew not what direction to turn or what course to take.  p.40 After a long and painful delay one of them said, “Let the horse go on and choose his own path. He bears the body of a saint, and by his guidance will doubtlessly lead us alright.” The horse walked on, and turning neither to the right nor left, made straight for Kilcrea, where they arrived about midnight. While the sacred remains were being consigned to the grave, a number of persons at a distance, who perhaps, were acting as sentinels in the different castles, beheld a strange and wonderful light radiating from the convent and adjoining grounds. Having afterwards heard of the death of this holy man, and that he was being buried just then, they were convinced that the signs in the heavens which they had seen, proceeded from no natural cause, but were the work of the Most High, declaring the sanctity of His servant.

11. Cork

 6:3 p.65

The Convent of Cork was situated in the northern suburb of the city. It was sometimes called the Convent of Shandon, from a castle of that name belonging to Viscount Barry, which stood close at hand. This nobleman was the founder. 46  p.66 It is at present inhabited by an English Protestant, who has erected a dwelling house within the precincts. All the buildings, except the walls of the church, have been knocked down, and are now a heap of ruins. A salmon weir in the river to the west of the city belonged to the convent. For some years past the friars have lived in the city itself, in a rented house, where they labour assiduously, in the things which are of God, according to the circumstances of the times. I know nothing regarding the antiquity or foundation of this convent.

12. Youghal

The Convent of Youghal, in the sea-port town of that name, in the County of Cork and the Diocese of Cloyne, was founded by Lord Fitzgerald, from whom are descended the illustrious Earls of Desmond and the other Geraldines of Munster.

It is said to be one of the oldest, if not in fact, the most ancient in the Province. I cannot find, however, the date of its foundation. 47 It was among the most flourishing of our convents, and our brethren dwelt there in security, under the protection of the Geraldines till about 1583. But when, as happened, at that time, their power was broken, and the success of the heretics assured, the sacred pile was profaned  p.67 reduced to ruins, while the friars were expelled, or crowned with martyrdoms. In the year 1596 48 (if my information regarding the date be correct) Fr. Daniel O'Doilean 49 was put to the torture, which he bore with wonderful fortitude. Captain Dundall with his troop by orders of the Viceroy, Lord Arthur Grey, subjected him to the cruellest torments. They dragged him to Trinity Gate, as it is called, and there having tied his arms behind his back, and fastened heavy stones to his feet, drew him up three times to the top of the tower, where they left him hanging in the air on each occasion. At length after many insults and tortures he was suspended by the feet with his head downwards, at the mill near the convent. He was left in this position for a long time. In all his sufferings he never uttered an impatient word but like a good Christian, recited prayers without ceasing, sometimes aloud, at other times in a low voice. Finally the soldiers were ordered to shoot him, and he was placed as a target, at which they might practice. That his agony might be the longer and more cruel it was agreed that they were to aim at the less vital parts of the body, and carefully avoid striking the head or heart. Having been wounded in many places, one of the company, moved by a grim compassion, loaded his gun with two balls, and shot him through the heart. Thus he passed away, crowned by a glorious martyrdom, on the 22nd of April in the year aforesaid. 50 Here also, near the right hand side of the High Altar, rest, according to tradition, the remains of a holy friar who worked many miracles.

The whole convent, except the walls of the church and some of the out-offices, is now in ruins. After the suppression of the monasteries certain Englishmen took up their abode there, one after another, profaned the house of God, by forcibly seizing upon it, and converting it to secular purposes. But some of them escaped the visitation of Divine Providence. Some were disturbed by visitations, others were even beaten with whips and bludgeons, while not a few were overtaken by a premature  p.68 death. And poverty, famine, and evils of various sorts fell upon those who had been wealthy, and who had dared to make the sacred spot their dwelling-place. All were compelled to fly from the place, and taught by their sufferings confessed that the hands of God and St. Francis were all that had happened to them.

Some silver chalices which belonged to this convent are still in existence and I have seen them in possession of the old Syndic of this place. This is detailed more fully in the Registry of the Province. There are also some books, especially a large Graduale, complete for the year which is very beautiful. All the others have perished, I have been told by an old father who was professed here, and who survives to the present day, that many of the moveables belonging to this convent were transferred to the castle of Dromana for safety, and that chalices, various ornaments, reliquaries, and the great cross of cold which was purchased for the friars by Lord James ... are preserved there. The old father said that it would be well to make an effort to recover them, but I fear it would be in vain.

13. Galbally-Aherlagh

 6:4 p.97

This convent is situated in a country town in the diocese of Emly. I know nothing regarding its foundation, 51 antiquity, except the following remarkable occurrence. In 1570 when the Viceroy, Lord Henry Sydney, was making incursions through this district three of our friars suffered martyrdom at Galbally. One of them was a priest called Dermot O'Mulroney. I have been unable to discover the names of the others. He had fled with his companions from that country convent to Clonmel, to escape the fury of the  p.98 persecution then raging. After a short stay he resolved to retrace his steps, God, perhaps, so disposing that he might gain the palm of martyrdom. He returned therefore to his convent, believing he could do so in safety. One day the English soldiers appeared. So sudden was the raid that all means of flight were cut off. Father O'Mulroney and his two companions took refuge in the bell-tower, and drew up the portable ladder after them. The soldiers determined to burn the church and tower, and applied fire to them for the purpose. To prevent this sacrilege the holy man came down of his own accord. He lowered the ladder, and placing his foot on the first step, fortified himself with the sign of the Cross. He then commenced to recite the Psalm “Misereri Mei” as he descend. The soldiers, in their fury, received him with blows and wounds, and finally struck off his head. Then was seen this miracle. Not a drop of blood flowed from the body from which the head had been severed. The soldiers astonished at the marvel, hacked the body to pieces, but failed to force the smallest quantity of blood from the wounds. I could obtain no details of the death of the other two beyond the fact of their martyrdom. This convent is now in ruins the walls alone standing.

14. Buttevant

The convent of Buttevant, or Kilnamulla, as it is called in Irish, was founded by Lord Viscount de Barry. 52 How long since I do not know. The church, which still stands is large. It is roofed with pieces of wood, shaped like tiles, and contains the burial places of many of the nobility. The buildings though ample in size, were not well proportioned. Of its records, which must have contained many entries worthy of note, I have no information. At present two friars live in the town, who assist at funerals. They dare not take up their residence at the convent, because Lord John de Barry, who  p.99 holds it from the king, is bound by the heretics, under a heavy fine, to prevent them from occupying it. He is a Catholic, and well disposed towards us, so far as it is possible for him. Buttevant is on the high way from Cork to Limerick. It is about equally distant from both. It was formerly a large town, but is now much decayed. About half-ways farther towards Limerick and within the limits of the district attached to the convent of that city, is Killmallock. Here two martyrs of our Order, the Most Rev. Lord and Father Brother Patrick O'Healy, Bishop of Mayo, and Brother O'Rourke, of the illustrious family of the Princes of Brefny, entered upon a glorious fight for the Faith, and bore away the palm of victory. Gonzaga speaks of them in his work on the rise and progress of the Seraphic Institute. A relation of their martyrdom is also given in the fourth book of the French Chronicles of the Order. I will pass on at present, as I intend to write a detailed account of their lives when I have collected the necessary information. They suffered in 1578, under William Drury, Viceroy of Ireland.

15. Nenagh

The convent is situated in the diocese of Killaloe and territory of Ormond. The town of Nenagh belonged in ancient times to the O'Kennedys, who are believed to have been the founders. 53 It is now in possession of the Earls of Ormond. Nothing remains of the building but the walls. This is one of the convents which never accepted the reform, and so remained under the jurisdiction of the Conventuals until the suppression; on this account some property was attached to it. I have no information regarding its former inmates. Its great antiquity may be inferred from the fact that it is mentioned by Bartholomew de Pisis in his work entitled Liber Conformitatum. It was then the head of the Custody to which it gave its name. 54 Almost all the inhabitants of the  p.100 surrounding country are good and generous Catholics, as I know by experienced, for I have sometimes preached among them.

16. Roscrea

The convent of Roscrea is also in the diocese of Killaloe and territory of Ely. It was founded little more than hundred years ago by Lord Mulrony O'Carroll, called the Great, a powerful and religious man. The record of the foundation was inscribed on a marble block, inserted in one side of cloister. 55 I have at present no certain remembrance of the date, for I had no intention of writing these sketches when I was there. The roofs of all the buildings have fallen in, but the walls still stand, and some panes of glass remain in the windows. The convent, though small, was elegantly proportioned, and could be easily rebuilt. The country round is rich and fertile and “the harvest is great indeed, but the labourers few.”

One of the friars who were professed there, lives to this day. At the time of the Suppression the convent was occupied by the Conventuals, some of whom fell away. Among them was one Teig Daly, who fled to Limerick, resolving to betake himself across the seas but was captured before he could effect his purpose. When put to the question, he stood firm in the Confession of the Faith, and rejected life and the many rewards offered to him if he would join himself to the heretics, preferring rather a glorious death. “Thus being made perfect in a short space, he fulfilled a long time.” I do not know under whom he suffered or in what year. The Brother was unable to give me these particulars. 56 This same Brother was the companion of the holy martyr in his flight and imprisonment. He was then a young priest, and very simple-minded.  p.101 When danger presented itself he abandoned his role, and having received some gifts, apostatized from the Order, and thus obtained his temporal liberty. Having returned to his native place, he settled down to a secular life in the neighbourhood of his former convent. Here he lived till 1611. In that year I was Vicar Provincial, and was preaching during Lent in that district. I often visited a place of pious pilgrimage, just a mile from the convent called “The Island of the Living”, 57 for the purpose of exhorting, as far as some lay, the people assembled there, to repentance. One day this Brother, now an old man, approached me. I did not know him even by appearance. He related the circumstances of his life, and humbly besought me to receive him again into the bosom of the Order. Having made inquiries, and found the matter to be as he said, I was touched with pity and appointed a certain time in which he was to come to me. I kept him with me some days, and then sent him to one of our convents, where he might spend the remainder of his life with the brethren, and do penance for his sins. I did wish him however, to make profession of the rule according to the constitutions of the Observantines, unless perhaps, on the approach of death should he so desire. He still survives and I hope his death will be better than the life he led such a length of time.

17. Cashel

 6:5 p.129

This convent is situated in the metropolitan city of Cashel, but outside the walls. A strong fence surrounds the grounds on every side. It was formerly occupied by the Conventuals, who possessed some wood lands and other property. And was commonly called Hackett's Monastery. I am not aware of the reason, nor have I been able to ascertain the name of the founder, or the date of foundation. 58

The street within the city, which leads towards the convent, was known by the name of Friar-street, perhaps because all that ground, or the greater portion of it, as it is generally believed  p.130 belonged to the friars. A great number have burial places in the precincts, and some of the monuments are of polished marble. I have utterly failed in my attempt to learn anything of the friars, who formerly occupied the place. All the roofs have fallen in, through the decay of time. The walls are still standing. The convent was not very well built, except the church, which was of ample size, though of simple architectural style. The great aqueduct by which the water is brought into the city, from a distance of two miles, is said to have been constructed by the friars. For the truth of this I cannot vouch, but vestiges of the channels by which the water entered the monastery may yet by seen in some of the out-offices.

A Catholic named Cooney, who is nephew to the Archbishop, 59 has at present possession of the convent. His father, Denis Cooney, bought it from a person who held it without any just title. He was a wealthy man, and left a rich inheritance to his son, who has so mismanaged affairs that he is now poor and needy. However, thanks be to God, he remains a Catholic, and a man of good character. The archbishop himself, in conversation with me on this matter, expressed his decided conviction that the poverty had fallen upon him because he held possession of the friars' property, and this although he does so without scruple of conscience, and therefore it may be without guilt before God. For this reason the Archbishop requested me to condone our rights, and to allow him to keep possession of the place so long as it remained possible for us to occupy it. I answered that as far as in me lay (I was then Provincial) I would willingly forego our claim, and grant the required permission, but the dominion of our property was vested in the Holy Roman Church, and not in ourselves, and that, therefore, I could do nothing. There was, however, I added, a Syndic appointed for us, who had authority from the Apostolic See in such matters, and I would, as a mark of respect for the Archbishop, recommend him, not in an authorative way, but as an act of charity, to consent to this application  p.131 on the following conditions — that Cooney himself should apply for such consent; that he should renounce the usurped title by which he now held the grounds; and that he should give security that he would not, by himself or others, directly or indirectly, seek to hinder us from enjoying full possession of the monastery and all its appurtenances, whenever the Royal Authority should so permit. I have not yet seen any petition from Cooney, and suspect, not without sufficient reason, that he has been inducted by other ecclesiastics to refuse these conditions, and to rest content with a dispensation from the Jesuits or other who lay claim to this privilege. For faculties have been given viva voce to certain person in Ireland, for the salvation of souls and to allay scruples of conscience, to dispense, during the schism, with those who hold ecclesiastical property, on the condition of their distributing each year, in pious uses, a certain amount of alms, according to the judgement of their confessor. There are prudent men who consider that this confession holds good only when the true owners, or their representatives are unable themselves to dispense of their property, and that in such cases the alms is to be expanded in their use and support. But there are others, who having nothing of their own to lose, are more liberal in disposing of the goods of others, and extend this faculty to the Episcopal and Parochial property, to the possessions of Abbeys, no matter of what dignity, and of monasteries, even when the true owners are present, and enter their protest. So some think, but I hold to the former opinion.

18. Clonmel

The convent of Clonmel, in the diocese of Waterford and Lismore, occupies a delightful position on the bank of the Suir, in an angle formed by the walls. The Earl of Desmond is said to have been the founder but the citizens claim that honour for themselves. At the dissolution of the monasteries the Earl of Ormond obtained possession of the convent and buildings belonging to it, while the church, cemetery, and sacristy were granted to the citizens. The church is still in good repair, and holds the burial places of many illustrious personages.  p.132 Among others that of the Baron of Cahir, whose monument, constructed of marble, and embellished with images and statues, rises high in the centre of the choir. In my time a heretic, who held the office of magistrate in the town, and who was an notorious priest hunter, selected a burial-place for himself in the church, and was actually interred beside the seat of the priest and sacred ministers, close to the high altar. Certain Jesuits and other ecclesiasts residing in the town were consenting parties to this and connived at the profanation. Even the friars made no protest, being prevented, from the machinations of the others. Thus through their carelessness the sacred place, which had hitherto escaped pollution, was desecrated. For they permitted this burial to take place, or, at least, as they themselves confess, remained silent, fearing a great evil, whereas if they had spoken even once it would not have been done. When I was on my visitation of the Province in 1615, I had the body exhumed by night, and removed to consecrated ground. I then purified the place with Holy Water, having first sought permission from the Archbishop. 60

The church is much frequented by the citizen, who there meet in prayer. On Sundays and festivals the magistrates, as well as the people assemble with great devotion, and make the Station, as they call it, when offerings or alms are contributed for the souls of the dead. These are received by persons appointed for the purpose who afterwards expend them in the preservation of the church buildings, and in support of the priests and the poor. This custom has existed from time immemorial, but the distribution of the portion of the offerings among the priests and the poor is believed to have commenced with the introduction of the Heresy, for before that time the clergy had property of their own and even now it is given them in a private way. It is therefore easy of belief that this pious custom was originally instituted for the purpose of keeping the conventual buildings in repair or for the benefit of the friars themselves. This is the reason why these  p.133 other ecclesiastics are unwilling to have the Franciscans take up again their residence in the town. For twice, in my recollection, members of the Order were appointed to Clonmel, and were refused admittance by the citizens, acting, it is thought, under their influence. The Jesuits have even alleged that they had obtained a grant of the convent from the Pope, but this attempt has been frustrated, and will be frustrated again if renewed.

It is thought with much probability that all the buildings from Kilsheelan Street, as it is called, to the way known by name of Suir-Quay-Gate-Street, belonged to the convent, and that the secular houses along these streets were built by the permission of the friars. This can be reasonably inferred from the position of the houses round the convent; also from the fact that some of the workshops of the monastery, as the bakery and such like, are found among these buildings. Again, the foundation deed of one of the houses which overlooks the cemetery, contains a clause guaranteeing free access and passing from the street to the cemetery and monastery; moreover, these houses have neither garden or court-yards, but stand round the precincts of the monastery between the streets and the convent grounds. 61 The mill at the gate and the bakery close by also formed part of the possession of the friars. These were called the Earl's mill and fishery. The large house near the convent, known by the name of the Earl's Court, 62 is also supposed to have been their property. For it  p.134 was customary among the Irish nobles to erect edifices of this sort as places of retreat, within the bounds of monasteries of which they were the founders, and hand them over to the friars, that they might be always kept in the readiness for their reception. Some, however say that this house never belonged to the monastery.

All the buildings except those mentioned above, as being in possession of the citizens, and the cloister, have fallen into ruin. The Earl of Ormond has put in repair, a rather small portion of what was formerly the infirmary, which he has for a dwelling-house with the garden adjoining. This has fallen to the share of Helen de Barry, widow of the late Earl of Ormond, and now married to Sir Thomas Somerset. I went to her with the request that she would bestow the place on the friars, but she refused to hear me, acting it may be on some such opinion, as I have alluded to when treating of Cashel. Mass is sometimes celebrated and sermons preached in the church. A citizen, notwithstanding my opposition, has constructed a burial place for himself in one of the chapels, in the very spot where stood a wooden Altar, on which I have often seen the holy sacrifice offered. I promised to keep fast memory of this, that in happier times the brethren may know what ought to be done.

A statue of St. Francis was preserved in the sacristy for a long time after the destruction of the images in the church. It was remarked, and proved by many miracles, that if anyone swore falsely, by St. Francis, in presence of this statue, God immediately made known the truth by some sign. I heard this from many trustworthy persons. A certain matron of Clonmel made oath before me that she was present when a women suspected of having stolen some article of dress, was brought before the statue, and there swore the charge was false. At that moment it dropped from her in the sight of all the by-standers. Repenting of her theft and perjury she confessed her guilt, and publicly declared that she had concealed the garment in a place far distant, and that it was only by the Divine Power that it could have been carried hither.


I have no information regarding the friars of Clonmel, except that I have read in an ancient manuscript that they took possession of the convent in 1269. A priest named Maurice, who was put to death for the faith by the heretics in Clonmel in 1589, was interred here. His relics were placed at the back of the Altar.

19. Carrig-on-Suir

 6:6 p.161

The convent was built near the river Suir. On the opposite bank stands the town of Carraig-on-Suir, which contains the chief residence of the Earl of Ormond. It is said, on what authority I know not, that this house of the Earl was erected on the monastery of St. Clare. Our convent is on the other side of the river, and was never entirely finished. At first the friars lived in a castle belonging to James Butler, the Earl of Ormond, who received the title from Edward III, King of England, in 1328. He granted this residence to the Conventual Franciscans in 1336. They entered into possession that same year, on the feast of SS. Peter and Paul. Brother Stephen de Barry was then Provincial, Brother William Naish, Custos, and Brother John Glya, Guardian, The last was the author of the Chronicle63 which bears his  p.162 name, and from which I have taken the above particulars. The friars built a church, dormitory, and cloister which were of no great size. The other buildings were never completed. The tower 64 of the ancient castle still stands. Some fields in the neighbourhood belonged to the convent, but now all have fallen into the hands of the Earl of Ormond.

20. Waterford

The convent of Waterford is situated near the wharf, where the ships are moored. The church is still intact, and it is the burial place of many illustrious families. Mass is sometimes celebrated within the walls and sermons delivered. But the grounds which once surrounded the convent, and the garden are sadly changed, and the solitude devoted, in former days, to religious contemplation, has become the most densely populated portion of the city. The monastic buildings have been turned into secular purposes, the gardens cut up into streets, and houses erected on all sides. The owner of these houses are Catholics, yet they have never sought our permission to hold them. Perhaps, because they have been told by other ecclesiastics that they could do so with a safe conscience.

Some citizens have raised a superstructure in the church extending over all the nave and adjoining chapel. Here they have established an asylum for the poor, in which sixty old and decrepit people, unable to earn a living, have beds. The building is divided into two distinct parts, one for the men and the other for the women. Alms for their support is collected through the city. It is called the Hospital of the Holy Ghost ... 65 Numbers of the citizens visit the Asylum on Sundays and festivals. They make offerings and supports as I have described when treating of Clonmel. In Waterford however, all the alms is expended on the poor. I do not know if this custom existed before the institution of the Hospital.

At present a few of the friars live in the city, in lodgings, as best they may. The inhabitants, who belong to Waterford by  p.163 birth, are pious and devout, and generous and well-disposed towards us. They are politic and shrewd in their conduct, but withal steadfast in the Faith.

I do not know when the convent was built, nor who was the founder, but I found the following words in the fragment of a MS. — “At the right-hand corner of the High Altar is the tomb of Sir Hugh Purcell, Knight, who was the founder of this convent.”This is not entirely conclusive. He may have been only a benefactor, nor is the day or year given. 66 It is probable that Brother Nicholas 67 of Gauthforda, who foretold his death to his brethren, as Pisanus related in his Liber Conformitatum, rests here. We may also conclude that this is the ancient convent which the same Pisanus calls Vasordia, and which he says belonged to the custody of Cashel; for the corrupt forms, which the names of places assume among foreigners, do not change or multiply the places themselves.

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Title (uniform): A History of the Franciscan Order in Ireland

Author: Donagh Mooney

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English translation by: "L"

Electronic edition compiled by: Natasha Dukelow

Proof corrections by: Beatrix Färber and Malgorzata Krasnodębska-D'Aughton

Funded by: University College, Cork, School of History

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1. First draft.

Extent: 20,250 words

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Publisher: CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts: a project of University College, Cork

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Date: 2019

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This text was donated to CELT by Natasha Dukelow (2019).

Donatus Mooney, OFM was elected Provincial of the Irish Franciscan Province in 1615 and in that capacity he conducted a vistitation of Francisan houses in Ireland between 1615 and 1616. He wrote his account in Louvain between 1617 and 1618. The work was bound by Anthony Purcell, OFM, who in 1617 was a young student at St Anthony's College, Louvain. The English translation of the text appeared in the Franciscan Tertiary (1894–1896); the translator of this text is signed as "L" but a full name is not recorded in the journal. A full Latin edition of the text was published by Brendan Jennings, OFM in 1934.

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  • Brussels, Royal Library (olim Burgundian Library); Ms 3947 (referred to as 'MS vii. (3195)' by the editor), large folio (8 x 13.5 inches), 101 leaves, written in 1617 by Donatus (Donagh) Mooney, bound by Anthony Purcell.


  1. Francisco de Gonzaga, De origine seraphicae religionis Franciscanae ... Opus in quattuor partes divisum [On the History of the Seraphic Order] 2 vols. (Romae 1587).
  2. Mervyn Archdall, Monasticon Hibernicum, or, An History of the Abbies, Priories and Other Religious Houses in Ireland. (Dublin: Printed for Luke White, 1786).
  3. Richard Butler (ed.), The Annals of Ireland by Friar John Clyn and Thady Dowling (Dublin 1849) 1–46. Online at CELT.
  4. William Maziere Brady, Clerical and Parochial Records of Cork, Cloyne and Ross taken from diocesan and parish registries, MSS. in the principal libraries and public offices of Oxford, Dublin, and London, etc. (London: Longmans & Co., 1864).
  5. John Clyn, The Annals of Ireland, ed. Bernadette Williams (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2007).
  6. Giraldus Cambrensis, The History and Topography of Ireland, ed. John J. O'Meara. (Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin Books, 1988) i.e. Topographia Hibernica, 1188: J. F. Dimock (ed.), Topographia Hibernica et expugnatio Hibernica, Rolls Series 21. Vol. 5 of Giraldi Cambrensis Opera. (London 1867).
  7. Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society. Vol. 3, No. 33 (1894).
  8. Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society. Vol. 4, No. 34 (1894).
  9. John O'Donovan, Annals of the Kingdom of Ireland by the Four Masters, from the Earliest Period to the Year 1616. (Dublin: Hodges, Smith and Co., 1856. Reprinted Dublin 1990). Online at CELT.
  10. Luke Wadding, Annales Minorum seu Trium Ordinum a S. Francisco Institutorum: Vols. 1–32 (Florence: Ad Claras Aquas (Quaracchi), 1931–64).
  11. James Ware, De Scriptoribus Hiberniae Libri Duo. Prior Continet Scriptores, in Hibernia Natos, Posterior, Scriptores Alios, qui in Hibernia Munera aliqua Obierunt. (Dublin: Ex Typographia Societatis Bibliopolarum, 1639).
  12. Brendan Jennings, 'Donatus Moneyus: De provincia Hiberniae S. Francisci', Analecta Hibernica, Vol. 6, 1934, 12–138. Available at http://www.jstor.org/stable/25510938. -- A key article, with a copy of edited text.

The edition used in the digital edition

‘A History of the Franciscan Order in Ireland’. In: The Franciscan tertiary: a Monthly Journal of the 3rd Order‍ 10–12; 1–6. Ed. by Unknown, pp. 289–97, 321–327, 353–358.

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  editor 	 = {"L"},
  title 	 = {A History of the Franciscan Order in Ireland},
  journal 	 = {The Franciscan tertiary: a Monthly Journal of the 3rd Order},
  editor 	 = {Unknown},
  address 	 = {Dublin},
  publisher 	 = {Freeman's Journal Linited, Printers},
  date 	 = {1893–1996},
  number 	 = {4; 5; 6},
  number 	 = {10–12; 1–6 },
  pages 	 = {289–97; 321–327; 353–358.}


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Creation: Written by Donatus Mooney

Date: 1617

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Keywords: Prose; Historiography; Franciscan Order; Donatus Mooney; Franciscans; Irish Franciscans; 17c; Ireland; translation

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  1. 2019-05-20: Corrections integrated. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
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  1. See above in File Header for authorship of the text. 🢀

  2. There is no doubt that the Franciscans came into Ireland before 1224. In that year a convent was built for them in Youghal, by Maurice Fitzgerald, another in Down, by Hugh de Lacy the younger, and a third in Athlone, by Cathal Dearg O'Connor. This was two years before the death of St. Francis. 🢀

  3. About the year 1617, there were in Ireland one hundred and twenty Franciscans, besides forty others in the College of Louvain🢀

  4. In the fifteenth century a widespread movement arose in the Franciscan Order to restore the primitive Observance of the rule, especially with regard to the possession of property. Those who accepted this reform were call Observantines, while those who claimed the right to hold property were known by the name of Conventuals, because as a rule, they occupied large and well-built convents. — L. 🢀

  5. Ormond and Desmond; Thomond, or Clare, then belonged to Connaught. 🢀

  6. Camden, London, 1610, and others place Cavan among the Ulster counties. 🢀

  7. Clare belonged to Munster until 1565, when the Viceroy Henry Sydney, annexed it to Connaught. Its proper name is Thomond, that is, North Munster. 🢀

  8. The ancient names of Philipstown and Maryborough. — L. 🢀

  9. To these counties of Leinster is to be added Longford. 🢀

  10. The name is not given in the MS. He was Thomas Strong, who died at Compostella on the 20th January, 1602. — L. 🢀

  11. The last Bishop of Emly was Morough MacBrien, who died in prison, for the Faith, in Dublin in 1585. Before him was Raymond de Burgo, a Franciscan, who died on the 27th July 1562, and was buried in the convent of Adare. 🢀

  12. This paragraph is an evident interpolation, as the MS. was written in 1617. — L. 🢀

  13. The last bishop was Boetius Egan, a Franciscan, who was educated at the College of St. Antony, Louvain. He was an excellent preacher, and a man truly worthy of veneration. He died full of days, on Low Sunday, 1650, in the Convent of Kilconnell, and was buried there in the chapter room. 🢀

  14. Dr. Molony was held in the highest esteem for his sanctity. When his grave was opened, some years after his death, a perfume was wafted through the Cathedral of Kilacduagh, so wonderfully sweet, that the immense multitude who were present declared that they had never experienced anything like it. Among the congregation were Rory O'Sheagnan, a man of high honour, and his wife, a most respectable matron of the Lynch family, both of whom confirmed this on oath before me. 🢀

  15. P. 162 Ed. Bononiae, 1590. The above work was written before 1399, in which year it was approved of by the General Chapter of Assisi. — L. 🢀

  16. This is a mistake. De Mortoto is a corruption of Totinoy, the ancient name of Monasteroris, half a mile from Edenderry, where a convent was built in 1325 by John de Birmingham, Earl of Louth. He assumed the Irish name of Mac Feorais, and the convent was called after him Mainstir Feorais. — L. 🢀

  17. Certainly, Kilkenny. The interchange of B.K. and r. is common in old writings. — L. 🢀

  18. The first syllable only is written, intended, I presume for Athlone, but it is more probably that by Luecia is meant Limerick. — L. 🢀

  19. According to Wadding, Athlone is meant, as may be seen by comparing the lists given in vol. ix., p. 219. I have no doubt that Fr. Mooney is correct. — L. 🢀

  20. It is certainly Cavan. The name of the district was Breffiny. The error in spelling — 'ss' for 'ff'. — L. 🢀

  21. This manuscript has been published by the Irish Archaeological Society, under the title of The Annals of Ireland, by Fr. John Clyn. — L. 🢀

  22. Turning to Clyn's annals we read, under 1336, “On Saturday, the feast of SS. Peter and Paul, the first of the Franciscans entered the Convents of Carrick, Fr. Stephen de Barry, Provincial; Fr. William Nasse, Custos; and Fr. Clyn, the first Guardian.” — L. 🢀

  23. It is at present known by the name of Creevelea. — L. 🢀

  24. Now called Claregalway. — L. 🢀

  25. Only eleven are mentioned, Quin being omitted, probably by error of transcriber. — L. 🢀

  26. Now Muckross.;— L. 🢀

  27. The MS. has only the letters “eoris”, but it is evident Monasteroris is meant. This however, gives thirteen convents to Leinster. — L. 🢀

  28. The MS. has fifty-one. A mistake, we may suppose, of the transcriber. — L. 🢀

  29. A Franciscan Monastery was founded at Ath-Dara ... by Thomas Earl of Kildare and his wife Joan, daughter of James Earl of Desmond, in the year 1464, and they erected a tomb for themselves in it. — Four Masters, sub anno🢀

  30. It is in the North of Kerry, about a mile from Carrigfoile, and somewhat more distant from Ballylongford. The ruins still remain. 🢀

  31. A Franciscan Convent was founded at Lis-Lachtain by O'Connor Kerry 1170, who selected for himself a burial place in it. — Four Masters🢀

  32. Askeaton, Eas-Gephine, the waterfall of Gephine. The monastery of Eas-Gephine was founded for the Franciscan Friars in 1420 by the Earl of Desmond, who created a tomb in it for himself and his descendants. — Four Masters🢀

  33. The Four Masters make no mention of the foundation of Timoleague. Wadding states that it was built before 1389. See vol. ix., p. 87, par. vii. 🢀

  34. Dr.Meredyth Hammer. He was born in Porkington in Shropsire, was a D.D. of Oxford, and a typical example of those adventurers who resorted to Ireland in the reign of Elizabeth to seek their fortune under the pretence of zeal for their religion. Of what manner were his labours for the propagation of the Royal Creed History is silent, but she has much to say of his success in making the Church a stepping-stone to wealth and power. A list of the benefices and other ecclesiastical offices and emoluments which he managed to procure affords instructive reading, and gives an insight into the character of our Irish Reformers. He was Archdeacon of Ross and a Vicar of Timoleague, Treasurer of Waterford, Chanter's Vicar Christ's Church, Dublin, Warden of Youghal, Prebendary of S. Michan's, Dublin. He held four Benefices in Ossory, one rectory in Leighlin, and three in Waterford, and was Chancellor of St. Canice's, Kilkenny. Before leaving his native country, to evangelize the benighted Papists of Ireland, he had been Vicar of St. Leonard's, London, and had distinguished himself by concerting the brass of the ancient monuments belonging to the church into coin. In truth, he was a worthy apostle of the reformation in Ireland. Having amassed a fortune he naturally turns in his leisured ease to write a history of the people whom he had persecuted and plundered. Hence we have a Chronicle of Ireland from his pen — of course, veracious and impartial, and to be quoted to the present day as all authority. He met a fitting end, having died of the plague in 1604. He was buried in St. Michan's, Dublin. — See Brady's Records of Cork, and Ware's Writers🢀

  35. William Lyon. He was a native of Chester, was consecrated Bishop of Ross in 1582, and in the following year obtained the dioceses of Cork and Cloyne. He was a virulent persecutor of the Catholics. He died at an advanced age on October 4th, 1617. He is said to have been a sea captain. See Cork Archaeological Journal, September and October, 1894. — L. 🢀

  36. A namesake of the victor, T.D. Sullivan has described this romantic incident in a beautiful poem which will be found in this number of the Tertiary. — L. 🢀

  37. The Franciscan Convent of Ardfert was founded in 1253, by Fitzmaurice of KerryFour Masters, sub anno — L. 🢀

  38. The Monastery of Bantry, in O'Sullivan's country, was founded by O'Sullivan in 1320 for Franciscan Friars. In this monastery O'Sullivan and many other nobles chose burial places for themselves. — Four Masters, sub anno. — L. 🢀

  39. Now called Muckross. “The Monastery of Oirbhealach, at Carraig-an-chiuil, at the eastern end of Loch Lein ... was founded for Franciscan Friars by MacCarthy More, Prince of Desmond (Donnell, son of Teige) in 1340, and the chiefs of the country selected burial places for themselves in this monastery. Among these were O'Sullivan More and the two O'Donohues.” Four Masters, sub anno. A beautiful legend is told to explain the name Carraig-an-chiuil, i.e., the rock of music. M'Carthy More had vowed to build a monastery for Franciscans in thanksgiving for his delivery from a great danger. He found it difficult to select a suitable locality. While he hesitated, a vision appeared to him warning him to erect the convent nowhere but at Carraig-an-chiuil. He knew of no such place, and dispatched a number of his followers in carious directions to make inquiries. They were returning in despair, when they heard the most enchanting music issue from a rock at Oirbhealach. They hurried home in all haste, and related their experience to MacCarthy. He considered that this was Carraig-an-chiuil, the Rock of Music spoken of in the vision, and committed to build the monastery without delay. — L. 🢀

  40. The Kerry mountains, extending to the confines of Cork, which were deemed impassable. L. 🢀

  41. The Lakes of Killarney. — L. 🢀

  42. Mangerton, I presume. The Owengarriff River, which forms the Torc waterfall in its course, rises in this mountain, and enters the lake not far from Muckross. The fishery may have been at the mouth of this river. — L. 🢀

  43. In 1449 Fineen O'Driscoll obtained permission from Pope Nicholas V. to build a convent for Franciscans in his territory. See brief in Wadding, vol. xii., p. 525. The Four Masters state that the monastery was built in 1460. See sub anno. — L. 🢀

  44. This raid of the Waterford men upon Innis-Sherkin took place in 1537. The ruins are at present in a good state of preservation, and form a conspicuous object from the stand at Baltimore. They were placed under the Board of Works last year, and a large sum of money has been spent in securing them from further decay. — L. 🢀

  45. The monastery of Kilcrea was founded for Francsican friars in 1465 by the M'Carthys, and they erected an honourable tomb in it for the internment therein of their gentlemen and chieftains. — L. Four Masters, sub anno. They thus record the death of the founder — sub anno, 1495 Cormac (i.e. M'Carthy), the son of Teige, Lord of Muskerry, was slain by his own brother Owen and his sons. He was the exalter and reverer of the church, the first founder of the Monastery of Cill-Credh, and was a man who ordered the Sabbath be strictly observed throughout his territory. — L. 🢀

  46. The Monastery of St. Francis at (C)ork was founded in 1229 by M'Carthy More (Dermot)Four Masters, sub anno. Wadding gives almost the same date. “About or before 1231” — see vol. ii, p. 275. He preserves a very interesting document which locates in precise terms the site of the convent and extent of the grounds. The friars, he tells us, had this deed twice transcribed to prevent it from destruction, first in 1371, when the Great Seal of the Kingdom was appended to it, and again in 1520, at the instance of William O'Maghram, the first Observantine Provincial. The following is a copy — “Let those present and to come know, that I Philip Prendergast, have given and granted, and by this present deed, have confirmed to the Friars Minor of Shandon, in honour of the Blessed Mary and St. Francis that the tract of ground which extends in length from the grounds of the burgesses of the said township (burgensium dictae villae) on the east, as far as Tobar Brenoke on the west, and in the breadth, from the rock on the north, to the water of the Lee on the south, together with the fishery of that river situated near the said place, for my soul and the souls of my predecessors, and my successors, which tract of ground and fishery is to be held free and without disturbance, with all the privileges and free customs which belong to the said land and water for ever; under this condition, however, that the names and sirnames of my predecessors and successors be read out for ever in the Chapter of the friars of the same place, and suffrages be offered for them. And I, the said Philip and my heirs, will guarantee, secure, and defend for ever the aforesaid ground and fishery, for the aforesaid friars and their successors against all comers. And that this my gift and grant may be of binding force in the future, I have placed my seal to the present deed, having as witnesses: Robert de Barry, Henry Gogan, Milo Fitzstephen, John Barry, David Caren senior, Edmond Leys, and many others.” The date of this document must be about 1240. It is evident from the wording that the convent already existed, and this is probably a confirmation by the Norman Prendergasts of the grant already made by the Irish McCarthys. The Tobar Brenoke spoken of is the well, known in later times by the names of Tubber-na-Brianach and Tubber-vic-an-Oge. When Mr Wise built the distillery at the foot of the hill about the beginning of the century, he shut up the well and placed the carved stones in the walls, where they may be seen at the present day, to mark the spot. The convent grounds, therefore, extended from the confines of the suburb of Shandon, which must have been near the North Gate Bridge on the east, to where Wise's Distillery now stands on the west. The rock and the river mark the north and the south boundaries as distinctly now as when the parchment was signed six hundred years ago. — L. This is now the North Mall Distillery at UCC. 🢀

  47. A monastery was erected by Maurice Fitzgerald, from whom the Fitzgeralds of Kildare and Desmond are descended, at Youghal, in 1224, for Franciscan Friars. Four Masters, sub anno🢀

  48. The correct date is 1569. It is probable the last two figures were interchanged by mistake of the transcriber. 🢀

  49. He is called O'Neylan by Wadding🢀

  50. Fr. O'Doilean is the first martyr of whom we have record of the host belonging to the Order of St. Francis who have borne the Palm. — L. 🢀

  51. A monastery was commenced by Franciscan Friars, in 1471, in Gallbhaile-Eatharlach, in the diocese of Emly, in Munster, but was destroyed the next year. — Four Masters, sub anno. Wadding gives the same date, see vol. xiii., p. 475. The ruins, including the lofty bell-tower mentioned by Father Mooney, from a picturesque object at the foot of the Galtees, near the Glen of Aherlagh i.e. Aherlow, from the County Limerick side. It was founded by the O'Briens of Ara. — L. 🢀

  52. A monastery was founded at Kilnamullagh, in 1251, by Barry, who chose a burial place for his family in it. — Four Masters, sub anno. — L. 🢀

  53. The Four Masters make no mention of the foundation of this convent. They tell us, however, that O'Carroll burned Nenagh, both monastery and town, in 1548. It was then occupied by the English, who had turned the conventual buildings into a fortress. — L. 🢀

  54. ps type="author" reg="Bartholomaeus Pisanus (c 1338-c 1401">Bartholomew de Pisi published the above work in 1399. — L. 🢀

  55. I give a translation of the inscription — “Pray for the soul of Mulrony, f. John. O'Carrol, who was Lord of Ely, and an Irish Prince at that time, 1523. It was he who had me built. On whose soul may the Lord have mercy. Amen.” — L. 🢀

  56. Father Teige O'Daly was put to death for the Faith on the 1st of January 1576. — L. 🢀

  57. “Insula Viventium.” It was a small island in Lough Crea, in the parish of Coolbally, a short distance south-east of Roscrea. The Lough is now dried up, and the bog which has taken its place is called Monahincha, i.e., the Bog of the Island. The church may still be seen in ruins. It is of considerable antiquity, and of remarkably beautiful architecture. Insula Viventium was a famous sanctuary and place of pilgrimage from the earliest times. Such was the piety of its inmates that the belief spread throughout the country that no person could die on the island, hence the name. — See Four Masters, sub anno 802, Archdall under Monaincha, Co. Tip., and Giraldus Cambrensis, Top. Hib. Dis. ii., chap iv. — L. 🢀

  58. The founder is supposed to have been William Hackett. This accounts for the name. The precise date of foundation is unknown, but must have been some years before 1260, for at the general Chapter held at Narbonne in that year, under the presidency of St. Bonaventure, it is mentioned as the chief convent of Custody. — L. 🢀

  59. Dr. David Kearney. He belonged to a family of wealth and respectability for many years honourably connected with Cashel. — L. 🢀

  60. Dr. Kearney. The See of Waterford was vacant from 1578–1629. — L. 🢀

  61. Kilsheelan Street extended eastward from the Dublin Gate. The portion here alluded to is now known by the names of Dublin Gate Street and Bagwell Street. The Dublin Gate stood some distance from the Mainguard, at the end of Johnson Street. Suir-Quay-Gate Street ran direct from the Dublin Gate to the river. The name Water Gate is still preserved, and marks the site of Suir-Quay Gate, the more ancient designation. We can thus form a pretty accurate idea of the situation and extent of the monastic grounds. On the south was the river, on the east the town wall, on the north Dublin Gate Street and a portion of Bagwell Street, and on the west Duncan Street and the way leading through Water Gate to the Suir. Abbey Street was cut almost through the centre of the grounds in the first quarter of the eighteenth century. It was formerly called Warren Street, but Father Cuddihy, the venerated pastor of Milford, U.S.A., and munificent benefactor of the present beautiful church and convent, had the name changed when he resided in Clonmel some fifty years ago. — L. 🢀

  62. The “Earl's Court”, according to tradition extended from Dublin Gate Street along the eastern side of Abbey Street. — L. 🢀

  63. This chronicle was published in 1819 by the Archaeological Society. — L. 🢀

  64. It is incorporated with the Parish Church, which was built on the site of the Franciscan convent. — L. 🢀

  65. Some words are here illegible in the MS. — L. 🢀

  66. Wadding states that the Sir Hugh Purcell mentioned above was the founder, and gives 1240 as the date. Vol. iii., p. 45. par xxvi. — L. 🢀

  67. Should be John. — L. 🢀


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