The absence of a planned reopening date for a historical landmark in Ennis has been lamented as “appalling” by the county’s first citizen.
No opening date has been pencilled in for the Ennis Friary, officials with the Office of Public Works have confirmed.
Clarity on when it was planned to make the Friary accessible to the public was sought by Cllr Mary Howard (FG) at the June meeting of the Ennis Municipal District.
She referenced the promotion of Ennis as a staycation destination which boasted a fine mix of retail, hotels, restaurants and bars. “The Abbey did not open last year, most primary schools have not gone outside of the county for their school tours, we’ve missed the bounce here. If that was open, it would have been an area to visit”.
Howard continued, “We’ve an incredible ruin that nobody can get access to. It is appalling that it is sitting there locked up,” the Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council fumed. Cllr Clare Colleran Molloy (FF) backed Howard’s sentiments.
Ennis Friary was the very last school of Catholic theology to survive the Reformation. The O’Briens of Thomond, who once ruled much of north Munster, founded the medieval Franciscan friary. It grew quickly into a huge foundation, with 350 friars and a famed school of 600 pupils by 1375.
There is a wealth of fifteenth and sixteenth century sculptures carved in local hard limestone including one of St Francis throughout the Friary.