Ennis Friary is a medieval Franciscan friary that was founded by the O’Briens of Thomond, who once held sway over a significant portion of north Munster. This impressive foundation grew rapidly and by the year 1375, it had become one of the largest friaries in Ireland, boasting a community of 350 friars and a prestigious school with over 600 students. Despite the tumultuous events of the Reformation, Ennis Friary managed to survive as the last bastion of Catholic theology education.
The friary is renowned for its exceptional collection of fifteenth- and sixteenth-century sculptures, which were carved from the local hard limestone. One of the most notable sculptures is a depiction of St Francis himself displaying the stigmata, a powerful symbol of the Franciscan order. Additionally, visitors to the friary can admire the remarkable image of Christ with his hands bound, which is found in the arch between the nave and transept.
A visit to the sacristy is a must-see for any visitor to Ennis Friary. The sacristy is an impressive structure with a ribbed, barrel-vaulted ceiling, and is home to a number of important artifacts and religious relics. Visitors are especially encouraged to take note of the beautiful east window, which features five lancets that illuminate the chancel in a stunning display of light and color. Overall, a visit to Ennis Friary is a journey through the history of the Franciscan order, and a testament to the enduring power of faith and art.