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Muckross Friary

Killarny Nat'l Park
Cº Kerry
OS Grid:V 975870
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Muckross Estate
Heritage Ireland
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the yew tree in the center of the tiny cloister

It's easy to recognize Franciscan monasteries -- the tall tower is always slender and looks perched on the wide roof of the church, looking more like a spite than a tower. Unlike Cistercians or Beneditines (or any of the other orders here), the tower is always narrow and thin. Except here -- Muckross is the only Franciscan Friary that has a tower that is as wide as the church itself..

But it's the cloister (and I love cloisters!) that is really interstnig here -- not only is it tiny, but inside is an enormous yew tree growing up through the open roof. The arches and columns on each side of the cloister are different, consisting of only six arches each. Inside the church, there are faint remains of painting in the niches ofthe transept, which hint at the brightly decorated interior when the church was in its heyday.

lookig up into the tower / one of the arched windows of the church

There are no aisles in the church, and no hint of huge piers to hold arches. Inside on the south wall is a sedilla (a semi-bench for the celebrants -- really just a jutting brace from the wall to lean against, and a double font for holy water.

ornate burial crypts in the church

On the east is a three-story building with fireplaces -- a later addition that was obviously used as housing, and much nicer than the normal, unheated dormitory. A spiral staircase leads to the tower.

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rath church
lost in ireland 2005 travelogue and photos © rfingerson