St Francis Abbey (Kilkenny)

St Francis's Abbey is located at the northeastern end of the medieval Hightown of Kilkenny. The Franciscans came to Ireland in around 1226, and St Francis's Abbey was founded sometime between 1231, when its benefactor, Richard Marshall, succeeded his brother, William, as earl of Pembroke and lord of Leinster, and April 1234, when he died from wounds sustained in battle on the Curragh of Kildare. The first definite date for the abbey is October 15, 1245, when it received a royal grant for clothing.

The abbey started as a small rectangular chapel but then expanded as funds allowed, reaching out from the city walls to the River Nore and becoming important enough to hold the provincial chapters of the friars in 1267 and 1308. Development continued throughout the fourteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. This expansion was, however, rapidly halted with the dissolution of the monasteries in the sixteenth century.

On August 25, 1543, three years after its dissolution, the abbey was given by royal grant to Walter Archer, sovereign of the city and the Corporation of Kilkenny. In 1550, the friars were expelled by John Bale, 'bishop' of Ossory. They returned in 1553 during the reign of Queen Mary but were again expelled in 1559 when Elizabeth I succeeded her sister.

 

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St Francis Abbey

 

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