On my last trip – heading to Ashford Castle (Co. Mayo) – I stopped at Headford (Co. Galway) to see Ross Errily Friary. The Friary is known as the largest and best preserved
medieval Franciscan Friary in Ireland and it doesn’t disappoint. From the road you can see the opulent construction over a impecable green landscape.
There are many conflicting information about the early history of Ross friary. But it is believed that it was founded between 1351 and 1460. Life at Ross Errilly was disrupted by the English Reformation. The Franciscans had loudly opposed King Henry VIII’s break with Rome.
In 1538, English authorities imprisoned two hundred of the monks and banished or killed an indeterminate number of others. The rest of the Franciscans’ history at Ross Errilly would be marked by repeated evictions and other persecutions. The last register of monks living in it was 1753.
More recently, the ruin of Ross Errilly had been used as a filming location for Bad Karma (2002), The Suicide Club (2000), Moving Target (2000) and series Reign (2013).
How to get there: If you’re driving, take the N84 road to Headford, at the traffic lights take The Church Road west and after about 1,5km you will see a road on the right sign-posted Ross Friary. The Friary is at the end of the road or get the bus from Galway to Headford and walk around 3km to get to the Friary.
Costs: It is open to the public free of charge.
Owner: The ruin is maintained by the OPW.
Overall thoughts: From the outside, the building does not look any different from many other church ruins in Ireland, but once you first step in, you can see how extensive it really is. The construction is impressive, it’s way bigger than it seems, you just keep going and going and going.
There’s also a very nice video on Youtube with images captured by a drone.