Ross Errilly Friary, County Galway, Republic of Ireland

Ross Errilly Friary. Panorama by Joshua Albers, May 26, 2013.

Ross Errilly Friary is probably the best preserved Franciscan monastery in Ireland; it is also one of the largest. Yet the site is curiously absent from many guidebooks and harder to find than more tourist-ready destinations. As a result, we found it gloriously uncrowded.

Founded in 1351, the monastery was enlarged in 1498 and ultimately abandoned in 1753. Now left largely unguarded, the remains sit beside a slim stream amongst sprawling cattle pastures.

The central cloister demarcates the boundaries of the more private spaces of the monks’ former living quarters from the church and bell tower. The domestic sections include a bakery, kitchen (complete with a water tank for live fish), dining hall, and, on the upper floors, dormitories. The presence of more recent graves throughout the building suggests that the entire structure is still on consecrated ground.

Photo by Joshua Albers, May 26, 2013.
Photo by Joshua Albers, May 26, 2013.

Photos by Renée DeVoe Mertz, May 26, 2013, unless otherwise stated.