Strade Abbey was originally established as a Franciscan Friary in the early part of the 13th century by Jordan de Exeter, Lord of Athlethan, however in 1253 the Friary was transferred into the ownership of the Dominicans (the abbey was also once known as Athlethan). Jordan de Exeter’s son Stephen was married to a noblewoman named Basilia Bermingham who wished for the Dominicans to be granted the Abbey. The story goes that she prepared a great banquet and invited her father Meyler de Bermingham, who founded Athenry Abbey, Basilia then refused to eat or drink anything until her husband conceded to her request. Basilia subsequently sent a messenger to the Pope, with a large sum of money and the Abbey passed into the hands of the Dominicans. However the Dominicans joy was short-lived as the ‘Annals of Loch Cé’ recorded the burning of the Friary in 1254, “the monastery of the Friars preachers at Ath-Lethan, in Loighne, was all burned”. The Abbey is also mentioned in one of the oldest of the Irish Annals, the Annals of Multyfarnham, which is believed to have been written by a Dominican from Strade.
In 1266 the Bishop of Lismore, mentions having ‘received at Athlone, on July 2, 1266, from Friar Henry de Siscle and Friar John Matugan [Madden], of the Dominican convent of Athletan [Straide], the sum of 28½ marks, Crusade money, collected by them and their brethren in their own district‘. In 1434 Pope Eugene IV granted an indulgence to anyone who provided financial support towards the restoration of Strade Abbey. Strade Abbey was dissolved in 1578 and first leased to James Garvey until 1588 when it was leased by Patrick Barnewall for forty years. It was recorded that only four friars remained in the abbey by 1767. The last Friar at Strade, Patrick D.Kelly, died in 1858.
Though the ruins of the Abbey itself are a lot smaller than what once would have existed it still is home to many beautiful decorative carvings, the magnificent 15th century tomb in the north wall of the chancel is reason enough to visit this beautiful place.
GPS: 53.92147, -9.12886