Ross Errilly

Franciscan Friary

Ross Errilly Friary (Irish:Mainistir Ros Oirialaigh) is the largest and best preserved Franciscan Friary in Ireland. The medieval friary, located about two miles west of Headford in County Galway, was founded in 1351 by Raymond de Burgo( Later Burke}. The monastic remains are approached along a narrow road and although the first views of the friary from the road are quite lovely, the building does not look that impressive. But as we first walked around the outside of the monastery we could see how extensive it really was. Most of the buildings date to the 15th century.

We entered the friary through a pointed west doorway leading into the nave of the rectangular church. My first impression disappeared as I looked up in awe at the huge tower, built in 1498, which separated the nave and chancel. Under the tower we could see the holes where the bell ropes would come through. To our right on the southside of the nave was a double south transept which added to the feeling of vastness of the building.

The Cloisters

There was a large cloister on the north side of the building and later as the friary grew a second cloister was added. The two cloisters are a most unusual feature of the Friary. There are many other domestic building on the north side of the church including a kitchen to the northwest, a bake house, the refectory and also a stone the friars would use for washing clothes, shown bottom right.

Ross Errilly Montage

In a corner of the kitchen there is a live fish-holding tank, pictured below left. In the walls are inward and outward shutes, vegetables inward and slops outward to feed the animals. The dormitories were on the upper level. In 1470 the friars changed over to strict observance. After this the monastery went through turbulent times. Early in the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1 the friary was confiscated and given to an ancestor of the founder Richard Burgh who duly returned it to the franciscans. The ownership of the friary changed hands several more times before Cromwellian forces took the building in 1656. Again the friars were to return 8 years later. We do know that there were monks in the friary in 1753, but by the early 19th century the buildings were in a sad state of neglect.

Fish Tank

Fish tank

Washing Stone

Washing stone

Situated: Very Easy. From Headford in Galway take The Church Road west. After about 1 mile you will see a road on the right sign-posted Ross Friary. Go to the end of this road. Admission Free.

Discovery Map 45: M 2486 4830. Last visit April 2012.

Longitude: 9° 7' 54" W

Latitude: 53° 28' 46" N

Google Map

Photos: Jim Dempsey and Deb Snelson.

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