Quin Abbey is built on the site of an earlier monastery which burned down in 1278. Soon after, a Norman castle was built by a military commander called Thomas de Clare. The foundations of this castle’s enormous corner towers can still be seen. Around 1350, the castle, which was by then a ruin, was rebuilt as a church and subsequently an abbey by the McNamara clan. The abbey was built between 1402 and 1433 by Sioda Cam MacNamara, for Fathers Purcell and Mooney who were friars of the Franciscan order. Although mostly roofless, the structure of the abbey is relatively well preserved. There is an intact cloister, and many other surviving architectural features make the abbey of significant historical value. In 1541, during the Reformation, King Henry VIII confiscated the abbey and it passed into the hands of Conor O’Brian, Earl of Thomond. In about 1590, the MacNamaras regained control of the abbey and once again set about repairing and restoring it. In about 1640 the building became a college and is alleged to have had 800 students. Oliver Cromwell arrived only 10 years later, murdering the monks and destroying the abbey. In 1671 the abbey was once again restored, but never regained its former status. Eventually in 1760 the monks were expelled, although the last Friar, John Hogan, remained there until his death in 1820, by which time the buildings were ruined by neglect.

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