Askeaton Franciscan Friary

Site Plan

Nave/ Laybrothers’ Choir:

Located in the western part of the church, the nave was where congregations gathered to hear sermons preached and to attend Mass. In Cistercian churches, the nave was the site of the Laybrothers’ Choir, the area in which those members of the community charged with manual work attended Mass and an abbreviated form of the Divine Office at the beginning and the end of their day’s work

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Monks’ Choir/ Presbytery:

Situated at the east end of the church and separated from the nave by a wooden or stone screen (cancellus), the chancel was the area reserved to the members of the religious community. At its west end were the choir stalls where the community gathered for the daily celebration of the Divine Office. At the east end of the chancel, underneath the principal window stood the High Altar and the sedilia or ornamental seats for the clergy officiating at Mass. This part of the chancel was also known as the presbytery

View direction: south east

View details:
This view shows the exterior of the choir and sacristy. It was also the original location of the tower, which was accessed from the sacristy

View direction: west

View details:
The large elegant east window of the church was designed to flood the chancel with light. In contrast, the sacristy beside was used as a store for the treasures of the friary, and so has a quasi-fortified appearance

Looking east

The chancel of the church was brightly lit by the large east window and three windows in the south wall. This would have provided a stark contrast with the poorly lit nave

View direction: south

View details: The walls of the chancel are filled with niches, some of which would originally have accommodated tombs

View direction: west

View details: This particularly ornate window, perhaps once filled with stained glass is located close to the western extremity of the chancel. It is the first thing that the friars would have seen as the entered the church from the cloister

View direction: north

View details:
The design of this tomb niche is very similar to niches at Adare and Lislaughtin, but otherwise unusual in an Irish context. The mouldings used and shape of the arch imply that it was made by an English mason working in the south west during the late fifteenth century

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Transept:

In monastic churches the transepts were rectangular extensions abutting the nave/chancel that gave the church its characteristic cruciform appearance. In friary churches generally only one transept is found. The transept provided space for additional altars dedicated to various saints and serving as mortuary, burial or chantry chapels for the community’s benefactors. In friaries the transept was often the location of a shrine to the Virgin Mary and was known as the Lady Chapel

View direction: south

View details: The now spacious interior of the north transept was most likely once filled with numerous tombs, timber screens and monor altars

View direction: south west

View details:
The rocky terrain to the north of the friary may explain why the domestic ranges are laid out to the south of the church instead of the north, as is more usual with Irish Franciscan planning

View direction: north

View details:
The north transept of the church almost doubled the space available for burial and lay worship in the church

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Sacristy:

The sacristy (or vestry) is a room off the church, where vestments, church furnishings and altar plate are stored and where the clergy robe for church services

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Refectory:

The refectory was the main dining room of the community, normally located in the cloister range parallel to the church. In houses of Augustinian Canons, the refectory was often located on the first floor, a position that recalled the cenaculum, or upper room in Jerusalem in which Christ had celebrated the Last Supper. Each refectory contained a pulpitum, or reader’s desk from which a member of the community read devotional material during the silent communal meals

There was a lavabo at the entrance for the religious to wash their hands

View direction: north

View details: The modern visitor now approaches the friary from the south and is greeted by the view of the friars’ large refectory jutting out to the left and the chancel of the church to the right

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Cloister:

An open quadrangle (garth) surrounded by a covered walkway, ambulatory or arcade; connects the domestic offices with the church

View details: The cloister at Askeaton is one of the finest and best preserved in Ireland. Each of the arcades is delicately carved with a range of finely moulded bases and capitals – intricate work not usually associated with the poverty mendicant orders

View details: Carvings of St Francis are relatively common in the cloisters of Franciscan friaries. This image, located in the north east corner of the cloister, would have greeted friars as soon as they entered this contemplative space

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View direction: north west

View details:
The main entrance to the friary is now through the cloister to the south of the church. During the medieval period, the cloister was reserved for the use of the friars, so the public used a now blocked doorway in the west faced of the church

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View details: A very fragmentary wall painting survives in the upper floor of the domestic ranges – a space that would have been reserved for the friars. It depicts a devotional image of the ‘Man of Sorrows’- showing Christ surrounded by the instruments of his Passion

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The view of Askeaton depicted in Pacata Hibernica demonstrates the close relationship between the patrons’ castle and the friary. It also depicts the large tower of the friary, now no longer standing

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