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The old friary in Ennis, one of Clare's many attractions.

Historic Ennis Friary re-opens to the public

TOURISM in Ennis has received a boost with the historic Ennis Friary re-opening to the public this week. The friary, which dates back to the 13th century, re-opened on Tuesday having been closed to the public since last summer due to Covid-19 restrictions. And as an extra bonus, admission to the popular attraction is free for the season.
Welcoming the announcement, Councillor Mary Howard said it is “great news” for the town. Just last month she criticised the continued closure of the Friary, saying that the town was losing out on potential tourism opportunities.
The Friary has been opened with health and safety in mind and Covid-19 guidelines have been put in place. A maximum of 15 visitors are permitted on site at any one time. Social distancing will apply throughout the site. Face coverings must be worn in all indoor spaces. There are self guided visits only, but Ennis Friary guides are on hand to answer any questions. Hand sanitising stations are in place throughout the site. And there are no public toilets available on site.
A spokesperson stated they are “delighted” that the OPW Heritage Site at Ennis Friary has reopened. “There will be free admission to Ennis Friary for the season and we will be open daily at 10am with last admission at 5.15pm. The site will be reopened in the safest way possible for both visitors staff.”
Visitors are being asked to follow Covid-19 guidelines and the guides instructions on site. “We are looking forward to welcoming you all back on site,” the spokesperson concluded.
The O’Briens of Thomond, who once ruled much of north Munster, founded Ennis’ Franciscan friary. It grew quickly with 350 friars and a famed school of 600 pupils by 1375. It was the very last school of Catholic theology to survive the Reformation. The building contains a wealth of fifteenth and sixteenth century sculptures carved in the local hard limestone, including one of St Francis himself displaying the stigmata.

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