Franciscan Friary – Palace Demense, Armagh

Location: Armagh

Franciscan Friary – Palace Demense, Armagh

Situated just inside the gates of the former Archbishop’s Palace, (Palace Demense), are the remains of the longest friary church in Ireland.  (The building was established in 1263 by Archbishop O’Scanail and destroyed by Shane O’Neill in the middle of the 16th century to prevent it being garrisoned by Elizabethan soldiers.

The Friary played an important part in the religious life of the city until its suppression in 1542.  Although some form of religious life continued, the buildings were fortified during the Elizabethan Wars and were ruined by 1600.  The impressive scale of the original structure, with its long narrow Church and south aisle, can still clearly be seen and at 49.8 metres, it is the longest known Friary Church in Ireland.  The east end was the burial place of many distinguished people including Gormlaith, wife of Domhnail O’Neill, King of Ulster, who died on 14 April, 1353.  A well dedicated to St. Bridget is sited just outside the demesne wall in what are now the rugby grounds.  The Franciscan Friary was founded by Archbishop O’Scannail in 1263/64.  It had prominent patrons and played an important part in the city’s religious life until it was suppressed in 1542. Some religious life continued, but the buildings suffered through warfare later in the 16th century and were in ruins by 1600.  Two empty graves and two tombs recess near the east and are reminders of the important patrons buried in the Friary Church, including Gormlaith O’Donnell, wife of Domhnail O’Neill in 1353.

Address:  The Palace Demense, Armagh, BT60 4EL (Located in the grounds of the Council Offices)