Welcome / Fáilte Romhat!

The Franciscan Abbey in Multyfarnham was founded in 1268 and continues to be an active centre of Franciscan mission in Ireland.  The only Franciscan Abbey in Ireland still standing on the footprint of its original foundation, the Franciscan fraternity continues its commitment of service from this special place.


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From the desk of Fr Kieran OFM

A vocation to friendship

Albert Camus was a French philosopher (and many other things). He was the recipient of the 1957 Nobel Prize in Literature at the age of 44, being the second-youngest recipient in the history of the prize. He wrote, on friendship: “Don’t walk in front of me, I may not follow, don’t walk behind me, I may not lead. Walk beside me, just be my friend.

“Friend” and, “friendship” are words that we use freely. Facebook commoditised the word such that, now we can all now have hundreds (maybe even thousands!) of “friends” and not even know most of them!

Albert Camus understood friendship in a very different way to Mark Zuckerberg and implies an equality that is central to what it is to be a friend. Fr Kieran, in his reflection that has been inspired by the Gospel on Good Shepherd Sunday, looks at the vocation of friendship, the call to be a friend. It is more than knowing, it is something intimate in its depth. Indeed, Aristotle said: “What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies.” And Jesus told his disciples that, “No longer do I call you servants … but I have called you friends.

In his earlier reflection, Kieran wrote of how there is a difference between what we are called to do and who we are called to be and it is in the latter that we find vocation. How true indeed, therefore, is it that friendship must be called a vocation?

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Good Shepherd Sunday

On the fourth Sunday of Easter every year, we hear the story of The Good Shepherd and since 1963 when St Pope Paul VI instituted it, it is also celebrated as the World Day of Prayer for Vocations or more usually, Vocations Sunday.

It is no surprise, therefore, the Fr Kieran takes a deeper look at what is vocation. Of course, Pope Paul VI, when he instituted this day, had in mind vocation to the priesthood or religious life. In his reflection, Kieran examines the broader view of vocation, differentiating between who we are, and what we do. And if vocation is about who we are, then who are we called to be?

In answer, Kieran tells us that we need look no further than seeing who Jesus is meant to be, which is to be the Son of God. Our calling, at its core, is to be family: “It is what we are in first place, for to be a child of a parent is not to do something, but to be the recipient of an unconditional, tender, gracious love. It makes us who we are, potential unconditional lovers of others, beginning with our natural family but then extending to our church family through Baptism.”

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Keeping Up Appearances

Jesus is Risen! Alleluia!!

We are in the Octave of Easter (this week, every day is preceded by the word, “Easter” and so we have, Easter Monday, Easter Tuesday, etc.) with the day of resurrection of Jesus still so near. Fr Kieran reflects on the various appearances of Jesus in the immediate time that followed.

In his reflection, Kieran uses the word, “impatience” seven times! At first, this might seem like ascribing human feelings and emotions to the divine God that is the resurrected Jesus. Of course, Jesus became flesh at His birth and during his lifetime, he experienced the same emotions and feelings as all humans do, even to crying (John 11:35). But on his death on the Cross, and resurrection on Easter morning, he returned fully divine and so, the human experience of impatience might seem out of place.

However, Kieran gives us the perspective of a Jesus who wants so much for us to know and feel how much He loves us, not leaving us orphans but instead, going before us to be with His Father in Heaven where He wants all of us to join with him eternally.

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Multyfarnham Friary: The life of the friars in the 17th and 18th Centuries.

Paschal Sweeney has completed the next phase in telling the history of the Franciscan Friary in Multyfarnham.

In this chapter, Paschal outlines the life of the friars during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Although still not free from oppression, nonetheless, they continued their service, preaching the Gospel at all times, and sometimes, using words!

Mary II and William III

in this latest chapter in the history of the friars at Multyfarnham, Paschal tells of of the years during the William and Mary (Queen Mary II and her husband, the infamous King William III of Orange, famous in Irish minds, for the Battle of the Boyne) 1689 – 1702.

These were difficult times for Catholics in Ireland and especially for priests, Bishops, friars, monks, and their many associates and friends.

Here, Paschal tell us something of this time in Ireland and the effect on the Franciscan fraternity in Multyfarnham.

Bishop Patrick Tyrrell, OFM

In this latest addition to his recounting the history of the Franciscans in Multyfarnham, Paschal Sweeney tells us the story of Bishop Patrick Tyrrell, who died in 1692.

Bishop Tyrrell joined the Franciscans in Multyfarnham in or around 1647 / 1648. Due to later persecutions of Catholics in Ireland and of the Franciscans in Multy, he was the last clothed in the brown habit of the Friars for a very long time.

Tyrell went on to become one of the most prominent members of the Irish hierarchy. He served as Bishop at the same time as now Saint Oliver Plunkett was in Armagh.

Read Paschal’s story here for the rest of the story.

Multyfarnham Friary in the years 1669 to 1687

Our local historian, Paschal Sweeney, takes us further along the path of Multyfarnham’s history, this time looking at the years 1669 to 1687 and at all the key events during this time.

Paschal’s insights tell us not just of the events but go beyond just the dates to what was actually happening at the time.

Enjoy this next instalment from Paschal and learn a little more of the hundreds of years of history embedded in the very stones of the Friary church!

The Friars at Knightswood

Our history of the Friary continues in this latest segment from Paschal Sweeney.

A return to the friary at Multyfarnham wasn’t immediately possible. Restoring the Friary from the damage caused to it was an expensive task. Hence, through the generosity of Sir Thomas Nugent, the found a home at Knightswood and here, once again, the Franciscan charism and mission flourished.

In this segment, Paschal writes of the friars time in Knightswood, including a report by Saint Oliver Plunkett to Rome about the presence of the Friars in this place.

An Evening of Beautiful Music in the Friary

Some buildings lend themselves, naturally, to having good acoustics and the Friary church can count itself among those. And when music is played and sung here, the tones of the voices and of the played music combine with the very stones themselves to deliver a sound that cannot be replicated in any other place. In every sense, it is a unique experience, both for the artists and for their audience.

And so it was last Sunday evening when The Lynn Singers from Mullingar, the Irish Concert Orchestra Quintet, and Vocative, a small six-man group of singers visited us to perform their Winter Concert. An audience of just over 300 people were treated to a beautiful evening of perfect singing, and magnificent and uplifting music. The first half of the evening was given over to The Lynn Singers, Vocative and the ICO Quintet performing “Magnificat” from St Luke’s Gospel (LK 1:46-55). Few of us can say that we have not heard the amazing words of Mary’s prayerful response to the Angel sung. However, Sunday’s performance was one with which few would be familiar. In an arrangement by Kim André Arnesen, a young Norwegian classical composer from Trondheim in that country, the performance of “Magnificat” was quite simply, beautiful. How such a sound could be obtained from so few voices is a mystery and the individual performances were so perfect, that the soprano voices were like the voices of angels filling the Friary church. This arrangement was sung in Latin and while this might, at first, risk disconnecting the audience from the magnificence of the words, having the Latin and English, side-by-side on the back page of the accompanying programme, allowed us to engage with the prayer. A spectacular performance, with Musical Director, Dervilla Conlon skillfully encouraging every note and pause to deliver an impeccable performance.

This was followed by the ICO Quintet with a performance of three pieces, two by Arthur Duff (“Windy Gap” and, “Meath Pastoral”) before concluding with McAnanty’s Reel. Kenneth Rice led the quintet in a spirited uplifting, toe-tapping, rendition of this well-known reel and at times, it seemed that Robin Panter on Viola was going to step forward, put his viola down, and break into the reel itself. Joyful!

The evening concluded with three songs, again from the The Lynn Singers, with Vocative and the ICO. First, we had Moonset, by Don McDonald, a thoughtful piece, followed by Blackbird, a Lennon and McCartney icon to an arrangement by Kenneth Rice of the ICO Quintet, and the evening finished with a song that seldom fails to bring to mind old friends, the Parting Glass, again to a Kenneth Rice arrangement with Audrey Snyder.

Evenings such as this are as rare as they are special, and it will take a few weeks for the last echoes of music from the evening to fade away. It is evenings such as this that remind us of why the Friary church in Multyfarnham has a special place in the hearts of all of us.

T. Gerard Bennett