Castlelyons Friary, Cork, Ireland

Castlelyons Friary was founded in 1307 when John de Barry granted the Carmelite friars a plot of land to build a church on. For 17 years Pope Clement V wasn’t willing to allow for the construction of the church, regardless the friars still lived there, however his successor Pope John XXII gave the Carmelites the licence to build. The original 14th century building was a small church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. In the 15th century a large amount of construction was carried out, the church extended to the west and the addition of the nave, a central tower, the cloister and the surrounding domestic buildings.

Sometime after 1541 the Carmelites were expelled and the friary became toe property of the Earl of Cork, Richard Boyle. In 1638 the windows of the friary were removed and taken to Lismore for the renovation of the Cathedral, so it would be logical to assume the friary had remained unoccupied during this time. In 1683 the local lord, Lord Barrymore granted the lands and the friary to the Dominicans. It seems the friary fell into decline in the late 18th century and once abandoned it was used as a hedge school. In the mid-19th century one visitor remarked how the nave was actually being used as a handball alley, this is not uncommon, I have seen at least three other religious sites that were turned into handball alleys during the 19th century!

Castleyons Friary is a beautiful site and quite unusual as it is one of the few Carmelite religious houses in Ireland that is in a good state of preservation.

GPS: 52.08912, -8.23354

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