This Franciscan Friary was founded by Owen O’ Rourke and his wife Margaret in 1508, it was the last Franciscan friary to be established in Ireland before the Suppression of the Monasteries. Five years prior to the suppression of 1541 the friary was accidentally burned and it is highly likely it was never fully restored at that time. It appears the friary was still in use by 1574 but was taken over and used as stables in 1590, this was probably when a lot of its woodwork and the thatched church roof were destroyed. The Friars took possession again in 1601-2 and repair work was undertaken until the Cromwellian army forced them to leave. Later the friary came into the hands of a man named Harrison, allowed the friars to return to Creevelea but for this they paid a high rent. The friars undertook more restoration, including restoring the thatch roof. It is not known why the friary was abandoned towards the end of the 17th century.
The friary is the burial place of Fr Bernard Mc Govern to whom cures are attributed. Legend has it that a person could be cured of any ailment by taking three teaspoons of clay from his grave, saying nine novenas for nine days and then returning the clay to the grave. I found one legend from the amazing Irish Schools Collection of 1837, a source of endless intrigue to myself, it states that on a warm summer’s day while the friary was being built two masons saw a woman passing by carrying two milk churns. The masons asked the woman for a drink but she refused, after she refused a second time the mason was so vexed he carved the woman’s image in a stone, with her mouth open and her tongue out. According to the writer of this story its believed that on every wet day a drop of water falls from the mouth of the carving.
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3 thoughts on “Creevelea Friary, Leitrim, Ireland”
Great photos. Really enjoyed the history, particularly the story about the masons, which led me to wonder if you’d ever made the acquaintance of Pat McAfee, the stonemason and writer?
I am aware of him and the work he has done around the old stone walls but no never met him in person. Yeah I love that story too, the schools collection was probably one of the best thing the government did in the 1930s!
Loved that story, Ed! Imagine though, using a grand old monastery as a stable! I mean, even in iits current state it’s soaring and grand!