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27 Sept 2022

The Friary in Clonmel holds a special place in the hearts of people who worship there

Deputy Mattie McgGrath

The Friary in Clonmel  holds a special place in the hearts of people who worship there

The Friary holds a special place in the hearts of people who worship there

Tipperary TD Mattie McGrath has expressed his huge shock and upset at the recent announcement by the Irish Franciscans that the Clonmel Friary is set to close its doors on January 6 2023.

The announcement which was made this week has been met with widespread sadness right across the town of Clonmel and surrounding villages.

The Friars have served the town of Clonmel for over 700 years and it is a deep shame that this unavoidable decision has been made due to their ageing and reduced number of Friars.

As a regular attendee in the Friary, Deputy McGrath said that the Friary holds a special place in the hearts of those who worship there and will be a huge loss.

“The Friary with St. Anthony's Alter has provided a place of solace and reflection in the centre of Clonmel for generations and people of all ages slip in and out throughout the day for a quiet moment, to say a prayer to St. Anthony or to attend regular confession. Even many non-church goers have been known to spend time in the Friary for a moment of reflection.

Those who attend the Friary have a deep sense of connection with the church and it’s closure will be a huge loss particularly to those who attend daily mass there.” Said Deputy McGrath

Deputy McGrath attended mass there on Tuesday Morning and met with many of the regular mass goers.

“There was a deep sense of sadness amongst those in attendance and I know personally how much the Friary means to those who attend there. The ceremony on Tuesday morning was a very fitting ceremony particularly as Tuesday Morning Mass is part of their weekly Novena to St. Anthony and many petitions to Saint Anthony were read aloud, showing just how much of a devotion the people have to St. Anthony and the Friary.

The annual St. Anthony's Novena together with the Blessing of the Lilies and the Blessing of Children ceremonies will also be greatly missed in the town.”

The church also has a huge historical significance as part of the Original tower, which was constructed between 1350 and 1400 remains at the back of the church and was beautifully restored over many years with support and investment from the people of Clonmel.”  Continued McGrath

Deputy McGrath said that the announcement was probably unavoidable particularly as the Franciscans in Clonmel had two bereavements recently with the sad loss of Fr. Tom Russell O.F.M and brother Isidore Cronin O.F.M who both passed away in July.

“This truly is devastating news for the town of Clonmel and surrounding areas, but it is unfortunately understandable with their recent bereavements, declining vocations and the increasing workload of the Friars.”

Deputy McGrath expressed his deep thanks to the Friars who have been great servants to the town.

“I want to express my deep gratitude to Fr. Billy Hoyne, Fr. James Hassan and Fr. Liam McCarthy, Fr. Jude Ronayne Forde, Fr. Larry Mulligan and all Friars connected with the Clonmel Franciscans for the service they have given to the town. We will be forever indebted to them and they will be a great loss to Clonmel. I also want to pay tribute to the staff, pastoral team, the Secular Franciscan Order and all who have given their time to enhance the ceremonies there over the years.”

Deputy McGrath also expressed disappointment at the premature suggestion that Tipperary County Council should take over the building for other uses.

“Suggestions, particularly so soon after this announcement that the building should be taken over by Tipperary County Council and put to other uses are both premature and upsetting to those who have found so much solace and peace in the Friary particularly when many had not heard the news. I would hope that the church could remain in some way as a place of worship, solace and reflection to the people of Clonmel and surrounding districts and I hope to meet with the Franciscan Province of Ireland to discuss their plans for the building.” Concluded McGrath

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