Ross Errilly Franciscan Friary

After spending a couple hours at Aughnanure Castle, we started our adventure for the day. One of my favorite pastimes is to drive the countryside just exploring roads never seen. Well, it certainly paid off this day! Driving along taking in the beautiful Ireland scenery, we spotted a bell tower off in the distance and decided to head that way to investigate. This was the route we were following as we drove around Lough Corrib.

To our astonishment, we ran into one of the most impressive and complete Franciscan foundations in Ireland. While we were getting our camera’s situated, a nice gentleman came walking down to road to greet us. He continued to walk with us to the ruins while providing us with a wonderful historical account of the friary. We spent a lot of time here; it is very easy to do and there was so much to explore!  I would have to agree with Dan, “The structure and surrounding countryside is quite picturesque.  It is easy to image the monks living here and farming the land.”

The Franciscan friary of Ross Errilly lies on the banks of the Black River, a natural border which divides the modern counties of Galway and Mayo before it enters Lough Corrib.  One of the most impressive surviving Franciscan friaries in Ireland, Ross Errilly is located 2km North West of the Galway village of Headford.  It was founded at some point between the mid-fourteenth and late fifteenth centuries.

The church and bell tower are to the south of a small but well preserved central cloister and domestic buildings are to the north. Among these are a kitchen (equipped with an oven and a water tank for live fish from the river), a bake house, and a refectory or dining area. The dormitories are on the upper levels. One unusual feature is a second courtyard or cloister, built to accommodate the friary’s growing population.

Like many other abandoned Christian sites in Ireland, Ross Errilly has continued to be used as a burial ground by area residents. In addition to tombs that date from the friary’s active period, many graves dating from the 18th through 20th centuries can be found inside the church walls. In some cases, tombstones comprise the floors of walkways and crawlspaces. ~ monastic.ie

The decline of Ross Errilly Friary

After that Ross Abbey was occupied on and off until around 1753 when it finally had to be abandoned.  Practicing the Catholic faith was illegal under the penal laws, and the penalties were severe. It came to the stage where local support for the monks while they were living in the building was no longer viable. The monks then built huts on a small river island nearby. enjoy-irish-culture.com

Today, the ruin of Ross Errilly is maintained by the Office of Public Works and is open to the public free of charge. It has been used as a filming location for Bad Karma, The Suicide Club, Moving Target & the series Reign.

Another wonderful memory made! I was in awe of the history and character that filled this place and feel very fortunate that we had the chance to experience this site. Here is a short video Dan made while walking through a section of the ruins (do not pay attention to my geeky self) 😉

A portion of our walk through (dantraun.com)

You can see Dan’s post and images from this day here.

Have a wonderful week everyone and stay safe. Sending love to all of you; see you at our next stop!