The Dominicans were invited by the Roche family from the nearby Glanworth Castle to establish a friary here in 1475. Known locally as Glanworth Abbey many sources, including Lewis’ Topographical Dictionary of Ireland (1837) give the date of establishment as 1227 however it is believed the later date is more accurate. The Dominicans had settled in Cork during the 13th century, establishing houses in Cork City and Youghal. In the early part of the 15th century some of the friars desired a more strict form of life, this group was known as the Observants and it was they who settled at Glanworth. The friary was dedicated to the Holy Cross and was only in operation for a very short period of time when it was closed down in 1541 due to the Dissolution fo the Monasteries. The friars probably recovered the property in the time of Queen Mary 1554-1558 but lost it again after the Desmond Rebellions. At that time the site contained a closister, dormitory, hall and other buildings however the large church is all that remains of this once sprawling site. A cemetery also once stood beside the church but no evidence of this remains.
The Dominicans returned in small numbers to Glanworth in the early part of the 17th century and the prior during the 1640s named David Roche was renowned for his holiness and learning. Roche was to be a victim of Cromwells armies, being sent alongside thousands of others to Barbados after the Siege of Limerick, from there he made his way to St Kitts but was killed in 1653 for saying mass to the other Irish exiles. The Dominicans still remained but in very small numbers and received four novices in the 1670. It was a dangerous time in history and the prior of Glanworth had to flee to Belgium after the Popish Plot of 1678-1681. In 1685 when the catholic King James II came to the throne, there was a period of toleration until his defeat in 1691. During this period there was only a community of eight at the friary. The numbers in the friary dwindled further and its unlikely it existed that far into the 18th century. The east window had been removed and placed in the local church of Ireland during the 19th century but was restored to its original location in the 1990s by the office of public works. The four story tower and church give us a glimpse of how spectacular the area of Glanworth must have been during the late medieval period.
GPS: 52.19099, -8.35673