Dominicans celebrate mass in Carlingford Abbey
The seven hundredth anniversary of the founding of the Dominican Abbey in Carlingford was marked by the celebration of Mass in the impressive ruins last Sunday.
Local people gathered with members of Dominican Order from Dundalk and around the country to celebrate the occasion.
The Carlingford pipe band led the procession from Chapel Hill into the still magnificent abbey. Among those present were representatives of the Dominican Order from various parts of Ireland including the Irish Provincial, Fr. Pat Lucey, O.P., Fr. Archie Byrne, O.P. Prior, Dundalk, Fr. Joe Bulman, O.P., Dundalk, Fr. Ray Watters,O.P., Newry, Fr. Ronan Cusack, O.P., Drogheda, Fr. Sean Cunningham,O.P., Sligo, Fr. Joe Dineen, O.P., Dublin and Fr. Donal Mehighan, O.P., Newbridge.
They were accompanied by the Friary school choir from Dundalk, altar servers from the Friary church and a large gathering of Dominican laity.
Local parish Priest, Fr. Jim Carroll and many parishioners from Carlingford and Omeath who had prepared the abbey for this special occasion welcomed the visitors.
The afternoon Mass was presided over by Irish provincial, Fr. Pat Lucey O.P, and the sermon was delivered by Dundalk prior, Fr. Archie Byrne O.P.
Fr Byrne recalled the history of the Abbey which was built by the Norman baron Richard de Burgh and donated to the Dominicans in 1305.
They were forced to abandon it when Henry V111 supressed the monasteries but continued to minister in the area for hundreds of years.
The Order moved to their present home in Anne Street, Dundalk in 1777 and a memorial slab on the wall adjoining the vestry of the present church reads “This Chapel was build in the year 1777 by Rev Dominick Thomas Prior of Carlingford and Preacher-General, in honour of the glorious Mother of Jesus and her adopted son St. Dominick.”
Indeed, Fr Byrne pointed out that the Prior of Dundalk is also entitled to be called the Prior of Carlingford.
Mass was also celebrated in the Carlingford Abbey in 1977 to mark the 200th anniversary of the Order in Dundalk but at that time the ruins were completely over-grown.
Readings, prayers and offertory procession were done by parishioners from Carlingford and Omeath, while James Hanratty played a solo on bagpipes during the offertory.
With the weather staying dry, there was a real festive atmosphere and the Dominicans were grateful for the welcome and hospitality.
History of the Abbey
The Dominican Abbey, dedicated to St. Malachy, was founded by Richard de Burgh, the Earl of Ulster, in 1305.
During the reign of Henry V111, the Dominicans were forced to leave their home and it was then used for various purposes, including a hall, a barracks and a handball alley.
Throughout its troubled history, the Abbey was burnt on several occasions and was extensively rebuilt in the 16th century. As a result, its fortification was not unusual.
The Franciscans tried to claim the Abbey from the Dominicans but the dispute was finally settled in 1671 by St. Oliver Plunkett in favour of the Dominicans.
It was a magnificent marble faced building, but now all that remains are the Church walls, a square tower and two turrets. To the south is a detached ruin, possibly a small chapel, and to the southeast are the remains of a mill used by the monks.
The building was restored by the Office of Public Works.