Although has been ruined now, the Ennis Friary was once a home to more than 300 Franciscan Friars and students. It was established in the early 13th century when the Franciscan were invited to the area and given the land. This Friary grew in importance, now as a famous attraction, but earlier as an important centre of learning and not just in Ireland but throughout Europe. It had become a large complex, with the church surrounded by cloisters, dormitories, workshops, a huge kitchen and refectory. It is, then, not surprising when at its height almost 1000 people lived and worked within its confines.
In the 16th century an Act in Restraint of Appeals, by the English King Henry V111, was passed. This eliminated the right of Catholic Monasteries and Friaries to exist. Those in Ireland initially were not affected, but as time progressed their lives became more difficult. Lands surrounding the Friaries were possessed by the crown and given or sold to those loyal to the king, and it became more and more difficult to preach and teach openly. The church was then handed over to the Protestant Church of Ireland until it was abandoned in 1871. The building has since been in the care of state.
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