I KNOW THAT I SHALL ARISE AND SEE MY GOD – AD 1488
This inscription is at the entrance to St Marys Church on Claddagh Quay in Galway.
Located on the Claddagh Quay, this Dominican church was designed by William Hague. With its rock-faced granite walls and finely detailed round-headed arches, this handsome church has often been described as being of Norman style. Features such as a carved tympanum and moulded surrounds at the front entrance as well as fine windows enliven the composition. This structure is a good example of the return of the Romanesque style linked with the Celtic Revival-style church architecture of the late nineteenth century. The well-preserved and decorated interior with its richly ornamented reredos, altar and font is especially worthy of note.
The first Dominican foundation in Connacht was Athenry (1241). From there the friars came to Galway in 1488.
When they arrived in Galway, the Dominicans got possession of an old abandoned chapel of ‘the Blessed virgin outside the walls’, otherwise called ‘St Mary on the Hill’, occupied by the Premonstratensian Canons of Tuam from 1235. In later times it came to be called ‘the West Convent’, or ‘St Mary’s outside the gates.’ On the whole, Dominicans in Ireland preferred to live outside the gates of walled towns. They could find a cheaper site, more space, freedom from tolls, and come and go as they wished. The patronage of the wealthy Lynch family, extended thirty years earlier to the visiting friars of Athenry, was maintained in the new foundation.
In the five centuries since the Dominicans from Athenry took possession of the church of St Mary on the Hill, many Galway Dominicans were well known nationally and internationally. We think, for example, of Edmund French who became bishop of Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora, Fr Tom Burke, the ‘prince of preachers’, who worked on the continent and preached not only in Ireland and England but throughout the US, and Fr Dominic Fahy, apostle of Irish emigrants in Argentina. No Galway Dominican, however, has exercised a wider apostolate than Damian Byrne
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