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Religious of the Parish

Franciscan Abbey & Original Village Cemetery

Franciscan Abbey

The origins of the village Abbey ruins is somewhat of a mystery, and has long been believed locally, possibly in error, to have been a Franciscan establishment, built and endowed by Earl Barrymore of who also established Buttevant Abbey of the same Order. This belief was most likely based upon Samuel Lewis’ Typographical Directory of 1837 who never visited Ireland at this time relying on local knowledge, states;

“… Near the village are found the ruins of a Franciscan abbey, founded and endowed by the Barry family: one of its towers serve as a steeple for present parish church, which, and the Roman Catholic chapel, are erected on its site; there are several detached portions of the buildings remaining, but they are rapidly falling to decay….”

Samuel Lewis was further in error when he says the Catholic Church was erected within the Abbey grounds. As a consequence of the devolution of the monasteries, all religious property became the property of the so-called Established Church. The Catholic Church stands on its own ground held in perpetuity by Thomas Forrest.

The Down’s survey shows the ruins, but does not name it. Then, William Wilson (topographer.) 1786 gives a brief description of the village, but fails to mention the ruins, yet in his more detailed description of Midleton about six miles away, he fully documents the Cistercian Abbey, then in ruins, but today little sign of it exists. Charles Smith’s, The Ancient and Present State of the County and City of Cork, 1815, gives a full description of Carrigtwohill. He too fails to mention the village ruins.

Father Joseph MacMahon, OFM, the Franciscan’s historian of Ireland’s Provincial Administration Office Dublin, recently advised us;

"Over many years of research into the history of the Irish Franciscans I have never heard of a foundation in Carrigtwohill. I’ve also consulted the sources and there is no mention whatsoever of a Franciscan foundation there. Officially, we refer to each foundation as ‘friary’ and never as ‘abbey’. The term ‘abbey’ has stuck to some only because the local people referred to them as such."

The following is a extract of T Gragoe article of Penhellick, published by the West Briton & Cornwall Advertiser, 22nd December 1870, for the Royal Institute of Cornwall entitled “Recollections of Remarkable Buying Place”;

“Near the village of Carrigtwohill, in the county Cork, are the extensive ruins of the religious house, and close by a graveyard which no stranger ever forgot. A sea of gravestones. Surely no man ever saw so many in one place before. Some were six and seven feet high, and all venerable with age. Perhaps in England, which has been a Protestant country so long, a truly ancient place of this kind is rarely seen. This struck me forcibly at the time. These stones seemed to guard no particular space, being nearly as close together as they could stand, and at all angles. Some were upright, others were prone -- here three colossal slabs, side by side, were leaning forward in a line, whilst those in the advanced rank were sloping backward to meet them. The abbey roof and every vestige of it had long mouldered to decay, but the walls were still standing, and you might yet see, from the grim workmanship of the deep-wrought windows, that the men who built that edifice meant it to weather out all time. The tower was crowned with ivy; and, alone in the twilight, I thought I could almost fancy the monkish head of some old “Father Abbot” peering over the top”

He was very likely Thomas Adolphus Gragoe, but further research is required to confirm.

Old Village Cemetery

The original village cemetery is located within the boundary walls of the ruins of the Franciscan Abbey. To the north and outside the Abbey boundary is the current village cemetery. The southside abuts St Aloysius College, and Convent. This is illustrated by the photographs taken by Ollie Sheehan from the top of the Abbey tower during a recent survey.

Cemetery Northside of Abbey
Cemetery Southside of Abbey
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