Kilconnell Friary

The ruins of this Franciscan Friary are amongst the best that are to be seen in Ireland.

Founded in 1353, the Friary is believed to have been built on the site of a much earlier 6th century monastic settlement named "Chill Chonill" in the Celtic language (which means "Church of Conall").  Like the monastic settlement founded by St CiarŠn twenty-five miles or so to the east around 543 AD (at Clonmacnoise), "Chill Chonill" is also located on the Esker Riada.

The present Anglicised placename "Kilconnell" appears to be a straightforward corruption of the Celtic words "Chill Chonill".

While numerous church properties were closed down following the Protestant Reformation (which began in the early1500's), Kilconnell Friary is unusual in that it held out for longer than many others; and, it even managed to successfully defend itself against an attack by soldiers from Lord Oliver Cromwell's Army in 1651. However, it eventually fell into ruin following the defeat of the Catholic Army of King James II of England at the nearby Battle of Aughrim in 1691 (by the Protestant Army of his son-in-law King William of Orange).

In all probability, the wealthy Catholics who normally provided financial support (and physical protection) for Kilconnell Friary and its occupants up to that time were either killed in the very decisive Battle of Aughrim (Ireland's "Gettysburg"), or, they left Ireland shortly afterwards because they did not wish to live under the new arrangements. Though some would have survived the battle and stayed on in Ireland, they would have been dispossessed of their wealth and their influence.

The line "Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang" (from one of William Shakespeare's poems) is almost certainly a reference to the demise of church properties such as Kilconnell Friary in the wake of the Reformation - which Shakespeare himself would have witnessed in England during the second half of the1500's, and the early years of the 1600's.

" Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang. "

Bare ruined choirs ... ... where late the sweet birds sang
Columns Outlines
Wall Tomb (?) Celtic Cross
Kilconnell Friary (May 6th 2002) NO DUMP HERE

That time of year thou may'st in me behold,
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon these boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.

In me thou seest the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by-and-by black night doth take away,
Death's second self, that seals up all in rest.

In me thou seest the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire,

Consumed with that which it was nourish'd by.

This thou perceiv'st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

By William Shakespeare (April ?? 1564 to April 23 1616)
(Sonnet 73)
Very inappropriately (as some see it), a company called Celtic Waste plan to build a huge superdump within a mile or so to the west of Kilconnell Friary.
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First placed on Internet:
May 6th 2002
Most recent update: May 8th 2002

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