Monday, 12 October 2015
Sligo Abbey (Walsh)
From Walsh, Thomas; History of the Irish Hierarchy, chapter lx, p. 655 ff.
Sligo, the capital of the county; a seaport, market-town and a parliamentary borough.
Maurice Fitzgerald, who was Lord Justice of Ireland in the year 1229, and who retained that office from 1232 to 1245, founded this noble monastery on the bank of the river Gitly and adjacent to the castle of Sligo, which Maurice erected A.D. 1245. The church was dedicated under the invocation of the Holy Cross, of which a commemoration was made daily in the divine office. It was supplied with
friars of the order of St. Dominick.
O'Connor Sligo was a liberal benefactor to this monastery. So was Pierce O'Timony, whose statue was erected in the cloister.
A.D. 1360, Mac William Bourke spoiled and burned the town.
A.D. 1414, the sacred edifice was destroyed by an accidental fire: at this time twenty friars were resident in the abbey. Pope John XXIII granted an indulgence to all who would contribute towards the expenses of refounding it.
A.D. 1416, the monastery was rebuilt by friar Bryan Mac Dermot Mac Donagh.
A.D. 1454, Bryan Mac Donagh, dynast of Tirerill, was interred here.
At the general suppression, it was granted to Sir William Taaffe. It is at present in the possession of Lord Palmerston, who can be styled the "Cecil" of England in this enlightened century.
The ruins of this spacious and beautiful monastery indicate its former magnificence. The northern and southern sides of the arcade, with the east one, still remain covered with an arched roof, which will soon yield to the wreck of time. The arches and pillars are of extraordinary workmanship, a few of which are adorned with sculpture. The east window is beautiful, and the high altar, which still remains, is decorated with relievo sculpture in the Gothic style. On the south side of the altar is a monument of O'Connor, with his own figure and that of his lady.
Archdale observes that Cromwell has done some injury to this monastery, but "that merit" rather belongs to Ireton and Sir Charles Coote, who could perceive no fault in the "frolics" of his soldiers when transfixing Irish innocent babes with their bayonets, and then elevating them on their points, in order that the writhings of those "innocents" would afford diversion to the puritan soldiery of England. Cromwell was never in Connaught.