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History & Heritage > People > Phelim O'Connor

Phelim O'Connor

King Phelim O’Connor and the Dominican Priory

King Turlough passed his favour for patronage of religious foundations to his son Rory, last high King of Ireland who founded Cong Abbey and died there in 1198, also Rory’s brother Cathal Crovedearg, King of Connacht founded Knock Moy in 1189 and Ballintober in 1216 and further on to Phelim O’Conor, King of Connacht who in 1256 supported the recently arrived Dominicans with a site in Roscommon just a short distance downhill from St. Coman’s Church. He was buried there in 1265 and his effigial slab and the gallowglass protective tomb surround ranks as one of the best in the country. It is significant in being only one of two Dominican foundations founded in Connacht by native Irish chieftains. The other was Cloonshaville near Frenchpark founded by the McDermottroes in 1385.

The first Dominicans reached Ireland in 1224. They tended to make foundations in Norman centres; even Connacht, out of five centres found between 1241 and 1274 all but one had Norman patrons. They were mendicant friars, had to beg for their bread and there were limits to which friars could preach and beg, usually around a twenty mile radius. It would transpire that the Dominicans would have an unbroken presence in Roscommon through the centuries, often through times of great vicissitudes down to the mid nineteenth century. One of the Dominicans last postings was the parish of Fuerty in 1812 when a Louvain educated man; Fr. Bartley Keelty built the chapel there at that time. It is interesting that the college of St.Anthony, Louvain in Belguim was founded by the famous man and Franciscan, Flaithre O’Maolchonaire (Florence Conry) about 1600.

It is significant that of the few places in Roscommon visited by St. Patrick himself, Fuerty and Oran a few miles from the town, are mentioned, he established Justis at Fuerty. With St. Kieran of Clonmacnoise having reputed birthplace in the same area, St. Coman was indeed following an illustrious tradition when on his travels in Ros Comain twelve hundred years ago.

Further Reading Sources:
See publications section of website
  • Feldlim ua Conchobar King of Connacht by Freya Verstaten