19 August 2021

Praying in Ordinary Time 2021:
82, Saint Mary’s Abbey, Loughrea

The mediaeval Carmelite abbey church ruins in Loughrea (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

Patrick Comerford

Before the day gets busy, I am taking a little time this morning for prayer, reflection and reading. Each morning in the time in the Church Calendar known as Ordinary Time, I am reflecting in these ways:

1, photographs of a church or place of worship;

2, the day’s Gospel reading;

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary.

My theme this week is churches in the Carmelite tradition, and my photographs this morning (19 August 2021) are from the ruined Saint Mary’s Carmelite Church and Abbey on Abbey Street, Loughrea, Co Galway.

The east end of the mediaeval abbey church ruins in Loughrea (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

Saint Mary’s Carmelite Church and Abbey on Abbey Street, Loughrea, sit on the northern edges of the town in Co Galway, close to the shores of Lough Rea, and date from 1300.

The Carmelites first came to Ireland in 1270, and they were invited to Loughrea at the end of the 13th century by the local Anglo-Norman leader, Richard de Burgh, who founded a monastery for them. The church and abbey are just outside the mediaeval town moat.

With a few interruptions, the Carmelites have continued to live in the town, providing a continuity of over 700 years.

The square tower was added and the abbey and church were enlarged ca 1437.

In the wake of the Reformations, the Carmelites left the abbey in 1618. The abandoned buildings soon fell into disrepair and ruin, although some of the friars continued to live in Loughrea.

A new order arrived in 1643, and Loughrea abbey was formally designated a Carmelite priory and novitiate in 1672.

General Charles Chalmot de Saint-Ruhe, Marquis de St Ruth, the French commander of some of the Jacobite forces at the Battle of Aughrim on 12 July 1691, is said to have been buried here secretly at night. This defeat led to the collapse of the Jacobite cause.

The architecture of the surviving abbey buildings reflect the simple style favoured by the mendicant orders, but there are some elegant tracery windows.

Inside, there are tombs decorated with elegant carvings, and in the surrounding churchyard there are graves and tombs representing many old Loughrea families.

General St Ruth was buried at night in the abbey church after the Battle of Aughrim in 1691 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

Matthew 22: 1-14 (NRSVA):

1 Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying: 2 ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. 3 He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. 4 Again he sent other slaves, saying, “Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.” 5 But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, 6 while the rest seized his slaves, maltreated them, and killed them. 7 The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. 8 Then he said to his slaves, “The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9 Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.” 10 Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests.

11 ‘But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, 12 and he said to him, “Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?” And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, “Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.’

Inside the ruins of the abbey church in Loughrea (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary:

The Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary today (19 August 2021, World Humanitarian Day) invites us to pray:

We give thanks for the work of humanitarian agencies across the world. May we remember those who lost their lives whilst working for humanitarian causes.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

Some elegant tracery windows survive in the ruins of the abbey church (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

The Carmelite Church, monastery and abbey ruins in Loughrea … a continuous presence since 1300 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

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