Kilcrea Friary (also called Kilcrea Abbey) is located near Ovens in County Cork, Ireland. It is in the barony of Muskerry, a short distance west of Cork city, and is the burial site of Art Ó Laoghaire. To the west of the friary stand the ruins of Kilcrea Castle which was also built by the friary's founder.
The name Kilcrea (Irish: Cill Chré) means the Cell of Cere, Cera or Cyra. Saint Cyra, lived in the 6th century and is said to have founded a nunnery about a mile east of the friary in the parish of St Owen's, now called Ovens.
Founded in 1465 for the Observant Franciscans by Cormac Laidir MacCarthy, Lord of Muskerry, Kilcrea Friary is located on the site on an earlier monastery, and named after Saint Cyra. He is interred in the centre of the choir. The Friary was officially suppressed in 1542 but continued in use under MacCarthy patronage. It was sacked by English troops in 1584. In 1597, it was granted to Cormac MacDermot MacCarthy who leased it to Richard Hardinge.
In 1661, the friary was granted to the first lord of Clancarty. It was vested in the Commissioners of Public Works in 1892. However, as late as 1832, a small number of friars remained living on the site. A graveyard is situated within the ruins of the Abbey. This was the burials place of the MacCarthys of Muskerry from 1494 to 1616, commencing with Cormac MacCarthy. No trace of the MacCarthy tombs survive. The Friary has been used for general burial since the early 17th century. Art Ó Laoghaire is buried here.
Kilcrea Friary consists of a nave and chancel church with tower, cloister and surrounding east, west and north range of buildings. The nave measures 25.95m in length by 7.20m in width. The friary is carefully laid out on a square and the church is entered through a doorway in its west gable. An arcade separates the nave from the south aisle and transept. A recess for a holy water stoup is found outside the doorway and in the gable over the doorway are the remains of a large, three-light window. The tower contained four storeys which had timber floors supported on stone corbels. Each storey was lit by plain, narrow, flat-headed windows, except for the top storey where there is a single ogee-headed light in each wall. No trace survives of the high altar which would have been sited under the east window, but an arched piscina is found nearby in the south wall. On the north side of the church is the cloister area and domestic buildings, which include the remains of the chapter room, the refectory and dormitories. Adjoining the chancel of the church is the sacristy, above which is the scriptorium. A 15th-century manuscript written at Kilcrea is preserved in Rennes, France.
- Power et al. 1997, Archaeological Inventory of County Cork, Vol. III, 372, No. 9482.
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