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Kilmallock Abbey

Kilmallock Abbey
© Kilmallock Abbey

The Dominican Friary or St. Saviour's Priory to give its proper title was established in 1291 when Gilbert Fitzgerald of the White Knights invited the Dominicans to the monastery that he had a built. The Fitzgeralds were the main benefactors of the friary and Maurice Fitzgerald was the main patron of the friary when it was enlarged in 1320. It is situated across the river Lúbach from the former parish church in Kilmallock.

The friars were forced to leave the area, as they had not sought the permission of the feudal lord of Kilmallock, the Bishop of the diocese. The church was built early in the 14th century and was a simple rectangular building. In or around 1320 a tower was built; a window was inserted in the south transept and an extension of the church to the south.

In 1541 the friars left the abbey when the monastery was dissolved and its lands and buildings confiscated. However, by around 1622, the monks returned to the priory.

Cromwellian forces under the leadership of Lord Inchiquin sacked the priory in 1648. The friars never really returned to the priory although some of the friars remained in the area in disguise and used the chalices for religious service. In 1756, there were only three fathers in Kilmallock. In 1790, the priory in Kilmallock was finally abandoned.

In 1639 three chalices were made for the convent in Kilmallock and inscriptions on all three mention the Burgatt family. There is a plaque to the Burgatt family in the choir of the priory. One of the chalices was given by Callaghan O'Callaghan includes a prayer for Maurice, son of Edward Fitzgibbon, the White Knight who died in 1608. Some of the chalices of the abbey have survived due to the fact that when the abbey was shut down.

Chalices in Kilmallock
© Chalices in Kilmallock

In the centre of the choir of the church lies the tomb of the last White Knight, Edmund. The top of the tomb is broken in two and there is a small hollow in the tomb, caused by dripping water, which is called the braon shinsior. This is regarded as a mark of divine displeasure of the way Edmund treated his fellow Catholics.

For a more detailed description of the Dominican Priory in Kilmallock, there is a book by Arlene Hogan called "Kilmallock Dominican Priory".

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