Main Record - County Galway
|Saint Francis' Church, County Galway
|Date||1410 - 1860|
|Categories of Special Interest||ARCHITECTURAL ARTISTIC ARCHAEOLOGICAL HISTORICAL SOCIAL|
|In Use As||church/chapel|| |
Freestanding gable-fronted Franciscan friary church, built c.1414, reroofed c.1855 for use as a parish church; with ruinous remains of gabled transept to south elevation formerly accessed through pointed opening now blocked up, shallow gabled projection with slate roof to south elevation, recent sacristy annex to north elevation, attached to roofless ruined remains of c.1650 of other friary buildings. Pitched slate roof with some lead ridge crestings, and cut-stone eaves course. Rubble limestone walls. Pointed arch four-light window opening of mid-nineteenth-century date to east gable, with chamfered stone surround and having decorative tracery above pointed lights, with leaded stained glass. Two sixteenth-century triple-light window openings to south elevation, with cut-stone surrounds and label-mouldings, with ogee-headed lights, and leaded stained glass. Similar, single-light window with rubble relieving arch to west end of same elevation. Round-headed window opening, possibly formerly doorway, to north elevation with splayed outer jambs, and leaded stained glass. Triple-light window opening to gable-front, having round-headed lights, cut-stone surround and label-moulding. Round-headed door opening, possibly of mid-nineteenth-century date, to gable-front with carved stone surround and hood-moulding, with recent timber battened double-leaf door. Metal bellcote with inscribed bell to sacristy. Open truss timber roof and recent timber screens to interior. Various plaques to interior. Set in graveyard with grave markers and mausolea of various dates. Grotto to front of site, also displaced cross finial. Rubble walls to site boundaries, that to rear having inset medieval grave slabs. Wrought-iron pedestrian and vehicular gates to graveyard, both with square-plan rubble piers. Wrought-iron double-leaf gates with square-plan rubble stone piers and wrought-iron turnstile.
This parish church is unusual in being the reused church of a medieval Franciscan friary. The many early details and plaques are of archaeological and historical importance. The carved stone ogee-headed and round-headed windows are early features, and the doorway and east window appear to be nineteenth-century insertions, though very much in the style of the medieval period. The interior is enhanced by stained-glass windows with their subtle colours. Papal permission for Meelick friary was granted by Pope John XII in 1414, probably at the request of the O'Maddens. The Franciscans remained after the Dissolution of the Monasteries, under the protection of the O'Madden family, the last friar dying in 1852.
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