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Bonnamargy Friary

Cº Amtrim
OS Grid D126408

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travelogue, 5.24
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Franciscan Order in Ireland
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the crumbled ruins of the bonomargy church

Bonamargy (or Banamargy or Bunnamairgy) is a Franciscan Friary near Ballycastle in Antrim. It was founded in the early 1500s by the Third Order of Franciscans, who occupied it until the 17th century. It is well known from a local nun Julia Macquillan, known as the Black Nun, who is buried there underneath a strange holestone cross.

The friary was founded by Roderick Macquillan, an Anglo-Norman of the de Mandeville family. It was probably the first religious order here, although an earlier church may have been sited nearby. There were never very many people here, the friary was small. It was one of the last friaries build. It eventually came into the hands o the McDonnalls, and a number of battles were found near the grounds. Sorley Boy Macdonnell, one of the great earls, is buried in a decorated vault in the church.

looking through an arched window / the holed cross of the Black Nun's grave


plan of bonamargy friary

The plan is a common franscican one: long, narrow rectangular church (about 100 feet long) with no side aisles, and surrounded by the domestic buildings needed to support the friars here. The domestic buildings are on the south side, and include kitchen, refectory, dormitory. Thee cloisters on the north side, which is different than most other foundations. Nothing remains of the cloisters, since they were only wood with thatched roofs. The line where the top fo the roof would have been remains on the wall. The church had a thatch roof as well, like many of the buldings in this area. The church was never updated with a tower.

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lost in ireland 2005 travelogue and photos © rfingerson