About us


A Gateway to Ireland’s Medieval Past

Visitors travelling through the Irish landscape often come upon the country’s uniquely rich medieval monastic remains. This is part of a shared European history as these houses were founded by international orders – Augustinians, Benedictines, Carmelites, Cistercians, Dominicans, Franciscans and other orders. Monasteries and friaries are in many Irish towns often standing on the site of a medieval gateway or close to a river, medieval route way or castle. Magnificent buildings dominate rural landscapes, some deliberately located in isolated places, others marking the location of medieval settlements that did not flourish. The artistic and architectural skills of master craftsmen and masons can be seen in fine stonework, in exceptional carvings and in the remnants of wall paintings. Tombs depicting a panoply of medieval saints – Catherine with her wheel, Peter with his keys, Patrick the bishop and Dominic the preacher – remind us of the patrons who endowed these houses, the great Irish and Anglo-Norman families (Barrys, Fitzgeralds, O’Donnells, O’Conors and many more). But these houses were not primarily the meeting places of lords and craftsmen. They housed communities of friars and monks who prayed at the same time as they played a part in the economic, political and social life of their environs. Their stories and those of their foundations are a gateway to the medieval history of Ireland.

Quin Franciscan Friary, Co. Clare

The Monastic Ireland project gratefully acknowledges funding from the following:


Fáilte Ireland Applied Research Scheme
Department of Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Built Heritage Scheme),
University College Dublin

Irish Research Council Research Project Grant Scheme

Website maintenance and design has been supported by the Discovery Programme: Centre for Archaeology and Innovation Ireland since 2013.

Project co-investigators:

Dr Edel Bhreathnach
Dr Malgorzata Krasnodebska-D’Aughton
Dr Rachel Moss

Project Research Assistants:

Dr Miriam Clyne
Dr Annejulie Lafaye
Dr Niamh NicGhabhann
Dr Elaine Pereira-Farrell
Dr Keith Smith

The Monastic Ireland team are grateful to the following individuals and bodies for their support of the project:
Prof. Janet Burton
Nigel Callaghan
Ciaron Fitzpatrick
Rhys Jenkins
Ian McCarthy
Ultan O’Brien
Dr Colmán Ó Clabaigh OSB
Dr Danielle O’Donovan
Dr Karen Stöber
Office of Public Works
National Monuments Service
Heritage Island, Dublin
South West Regional Authority