Askeaton Friary, Limerick, Ireland

The Friary at Askeaton is situated to the north of the Limerick village, also home to the impressive Desmond Castle, the area heavily associated with the FitzGeralds for generations. There are two foundation dates given for the Friary, the first being 1389 by Gerald FitzMaurice FitzGerald, 3rd Earl of Desmond, the reason given for this date is due to a recording of an indulgence possibly given to the friary by Pope Boniface IX, who was pope from 1389-1404. Gerald was a renowned writer of poetry in Irish and legends state that he is still sleeping in a cave, waiting to ride back on his horse in Ireland’s time of need! A second school of thought places the more likely foundation date of 1420, this would mean that Gerald’s son James FitzGerald Fitzgerald, the 6th Earl of Desmond was the friary’s patron. James was known as ‘the Usurper Earl’, he deprived is nephew, Thomas, of his title and estates in 1418 for marrying a Gaelic woman, Thomas was forced into exile in France and died in Rouen two years later. James helped the FitzGeralds rise in further prominence was a supporter of the House of York.

The Friary was plundered by Nicholas Malby in 1579 during the Second Desmond Rebellion as he had been unsuccessful in his siege of Desmond Castle, many of the friars were killed and two friars hanged at Kilmallock were buried in the friary. The order was revived again in 1627 but did not full establish themselves until 1642 but abandoned in 1648 as Cromwell’s forces raged through Ireland. The friary was re-established in 1659 with the help of Richard Stephenson, a leading member of the Confederate Irish Forces, his family were granted a tomb near the altar. The last Friar was appointed in 1714 and it is soon after this that the Friary fell out of use.

GPS: 52.60379, -8.97544

4 thoughts on “Askeaton Friary, Limerick, Ireland

  1. How haunting. The stone itself takes on the characteristic of the leaden sky, a structure of petrified cloud. Reading your synopsis of the friary’s history added to the phantasmagorical voice in the photography.

    But anyway, merry Christmas Ed! Hope you’re doing well! I saw your fantastic Hill of Allen stuff, not sure if my comment made it through. Wanted to make sure to wish you the best, as well as catch up on your adventures through Ireland’s historical sites!

    • Hi Tiege, unfortunately I didnt get any notification of the Hill of Allen post, its a special site to me as I could see it everyday from the house where I grew up. Merry Christmas to you too, I was down in Clifden in Connemara when you posted so only catching up now. Hope you have a Merry Christmas also.

      • I don’t know why I have trouble commenting sometimes. Your post on the Hill of Allen was so touching, I wanted to reach out; if you don’t mind I’ll post it here?

        Merry Christmas Ed! Sorry I’ve been away, but you know how life is sometimes, but it’s good to say hi again!
        Lol, I was wondering if you had taken pictures of the Hill of Allen! Very impressive photo work, as usual. I’m sorry to hear how damaged the Hill has gotten, and how the tower has gone into disrepair.
        The anecdote about your personal history with the Hill, and your father at Christmas was all very moving. It’s even more powerful to discover and read it at this time of year, by pure luck! Your dad sounds like an inspiring man, and the childhood recollections of Finn and the fianna struck a cord. Not to embarrass myself by getting all cornball, but the past few years since starting my blog discussing the scholarship of possible Celtic myths in early Gaelic and Brythonic texts I’ve developed a fondness for Finn mac Umaill tales myself. Skeptical academics said Geoffrey of Monmouth invented the figure of Merlin himself, but the Merlin story features in the 8th c Quarrel of Finn and Oisín, hundreds of years before Geoffrey was even born. The Rescue of Mabon, (a name believed to be the equivalent of the deity Maponos) has been doubted as a reliably old narrative, but the story is paralleled by the 12th c Magic Imprisonment and Rescue of Oisín, once again Finn rides in and gives the possibility much more credibility, against all odds. The frame-story of Culhwch ac Olwen has been regarded as a trumped up folktale, but Finn nevertheless goes on the same adventure. Not to get sappy or all metaphysical, but it feels like Finn McCool has saved the very idea of Celtic myth. For that he’s a hero, and he will always be: my hero.
        Anyway, again, merry Christmas Ed, I hope you’re well, and also I hope we can collaborate again soon! Take it easy!

      • I hope you have a Merry Christmas too Tiege, and indeed I would love to collaborate again, if I can be of any assistance please let me know 🙂

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