Carlingford Dominican Priory

Site Plan

The nave is the area in the western part of the main body of the church where the congregation gathered to hear sermons preached and to attend Mass.

A view of the friary, showing where the cloister and the domestic buildings would have stood. We can still see, on the south wall of the church, the string course indicating the extent of the cloister between the east and west domestic range, and which would have supported the lean-two roof of the cloister walk.

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Towers served as belfries, ringing out the hours of the Divine Offices, which called the religious community to the church. They were generally built over crossing or the intersection of the nave and chancel.

: An aerial view of the friary, showing the extent of the remaining buildings, and modern houses in the forefront, located on what would have been part of the friary precinct. Between those and the friary is where the cloister and domestic buildings would have stood. Of these, only the outline of the east range, its south gable and the remains a fifteenth or sixteenth century tower survive.

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The choir was the area to the west end of the chancel where the community of religious gathered for the daily celebration of the Divine Office.

A view of the east gable of the church. The fifteen-feet-wide east window does not survive, but it probably was a group of graded lancets similar to the windows in Kilmallock Dominican priory and Kilkenny Franciscan friary.

We get a better look here at the chancel, with the tower that separates it from the nave, which unlike many other mendicant church towers was not a later addition but was part of the original project. Indeed the friary was built sometime after 1352, when such towers had begun to be inserted in existing churches. Note also how wide the tower arch is, in comparison to other such towers. It would have likely been closed off by a screen, at least on the side of the nave, blocking most of the chancel from the laity’s view, though it would have been opened to let them see the elevation of the Host during the Eucharist, thus taking part in a ‘visual communion’.

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The east range contained the rooms essential for conducting monastic life, such as the sacristy, chapter house, calefactory and dormitories above. The range was connected to the church via the chancel or transept.

On this view we have a better look at the remains of the south gable of the east range and the tower built in the later years of the friary. While the tower between the chancel belongs to the original building project, the nave was altered in later times, with crenellations and small corner turrets added to its west wall, which might explain why at the dissolution the friary was recognised as ‘a sure defence for the town in case of attack’, and why the church survived.

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