Adare Franciscan Friary, County Limerick

Arrested in the light of you
I stood and looked in awe
The skies a sharpened shade of blue
Your skirts of striking pink
That rose to kiss the summer sun
That reached up to the skies
That danced amidst the falling stone
That bloomed before my eyes
— Claire Loader

The Keeper of the Friary - so often it falls to the bull, the quiet solitude of crumbling walls protected by ring and horn. Not so in Adare. Nestled instead behind a gauntlet of golf balls, the Franciscan monastery rises from the 14th hole like the blooming towers of Elysium - swaying pink flowers scrambling, filling every nook, every alcove of the sun-kissed stone. The occasional chatter of golfers the only thing that pulls you back to reality, that breaks the spell that perhaps you had indeed stepped inside the halls of beyond.

Strade Abbey, County Mayo

We played inside these walls
Laughter dancing in the chancel
Ran inside these halls
Bare feet upon the earth
And we watched the years slip by
The crosses gain in number
Until we laid there with them
Our laughter now in stone.
— Claire Loader

So often it is the smaller abbey that deceives, the humble and quiet that has the most to share. A modest and unassuming Friary, Strade harbours some of the best preserved stonework to be found in County Mayo. From the fabulous Gothic tracery and carvings on the two 15th Century tombs, to the wonderful medieval grave slabs, if you haven’t yet stepped inside her walls, then you have been fooled.

Copyright © 2019 Claire Loader. All Rights Reserved.

Quin Abbey, County Clare

I ran my hands upon the walls
Fingers soft on stone
Walked like shadows through the halls
Through the ghosts that lingered still
Like the ivy on the towers
The moss upon the path
The rooks that sang of days long gone
Crumbling memories of the past
— Claire Loader

There is something quietly enchanting about a cloister, the soft footfalls of the past still reverberating around its walls.  A predominant feature of Franciscan Friaries, so few in the West are left intact.  But Quin, she is something special.  Walking around her vast halls you cannot help but be transported, whisked into the lilting rhythm of a long lost matins, reaching out from the very stone.

Copyright © 2019 Claire Loader. All Rights Reserved.