The Dominican Friary of Roscommon Town, Co. Roscommon


View of the south wall of the thirteenth century Dominican Friary at Roscommon.

Roscommon Friary is located in the southern part of Roscommon town, in the area known as Abbey Town. On the N63 Galway road, behind the Abbey Hotel, a pathway leads to the field in which the Friary is situated.

Roscommon Abbey was founded by St. Comman in the eigth century. That monastery survived as a house of Augustinian Canons into the fifteenth century but nothing of it survives today. The Dominican Friary was founded by Fedhlim O'Conchobhair, King of Connacht, in 1253 on a new site. The Annals of Loch Ce record in 1257 that “The monastery of Mary, in Ros-Comain, was consecrated by (Bishop) Tomaltach O'Conchobhair for the Friars Preachers.” The church consisted of a single long aisle with nave and choir, the northern transept was added in the fifteenth century. The church had a central tower which, along with the cloister, has been removed. The original lancet windows in the east and west walls were replaced with traceried windows in the fifteenth century. The Friary was dissolved at the end of the sixteenth century during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.

View of the thirteenth century tomb effigy of Fedhlim O'Conchobhair, King of Connacht.

On his death in 1265 Fedhlim O'Conchobhair was interred in the abbey and his tomb was covered by an effigial slab which can still be seen in a niche in the north-east corner of the church. The effigy was carved between 1290 and 1300 and is one of only two Irish royal effigies surviving from this period. The effigy is now supported by a later fifteenth century tomb carved with the figures of 8 soldiers in mail armour with swords and a gallowglass axe.


View Roscommon Abbey in a larger map

GPS coordinates 53.62479,-8.191853

Further reading
Walter Fitz Gerald, 1990. The Effigy of King Felim O'Conor in Roscommon Abbey, and the Altar-Tomb It Rests on. The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland. Fifth Series, Vol. 10, No. 4, pp. 364-367

 
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