Bonamargy Friary

Ballycastle, United Kingdom

Bonamargy Friary is a late Franciscan foundation established in 1485 by Rory MacQuillan. It is said that the first battle between the warring MacDonnell and MacQuillan clans was fought on nearby land. At the main entrance to the friary is a small, two storey gatehouse which opens into a store and workroom. Well worn steps lead directly to the dormitory above. Traces of an altar can still be found in the adjoining church, and the locked vaults hold the remains of the celebrated chieftain, Sorley Boy MacDonnell, and several of the earls of Antrim. His grandson Randal MacDonnell, 1st Marquess of Antrim, noted for his role in the War of the Three Kingdoms, is also buried there.

Perhaps the Friary’s most famous resident was the 17th century prophet and recluse Julie MacQuillen. Known as ‘The Black Nun’, MacQuillen wished to be buried at the entrance of the chapel so that she might be trodden under the feet of those who entered. A worn Celtic cross (rounded with a hole in the centre) marks her grave at the west end of the main church.

Around 1822 four manuscripts were found in an old oaken chest in the ruins of Bonamargy Friary. One of these manuscripts is described as 'Saint Bonaventures Life of Christ' and/or 'A History of the Blessed Scriptures'. Another manuscript contained a large portion of one of the principal theological works of Saint Thomas Aquinas, written on vellum, in very contracted Latin and extending to about 600 quarto pages. The earliest date appearing on it is 1338 and the latest 1380. It originally belonged to the Monastery of Saint Anthony, of Amiens in France.



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Founded: 1485
Category: Religious sites in United Kingdom

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4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Kenneth Mccracken (10 months ago)
Quiet place next to a golf course that's a minute from Ballycastle. Small parking lot.
Alex (11 months ago)
Remains of a stone friary and graveyard surrounded by a golf course. The interior spaces are locked behind gates, but you are free to roam around the buildings. Best thing is that it is not well known and I was the only person there. Though there was a couple just finishing up when I arrived. Great spot for photos. Very small parking lot.
Daniel McGwinn (11 months ago)
It's definitely worth a visit if in the area. There's a tiny car park (around three spaces and little room to manoeuvre) just off the main road, otherwise it's a short walk from Ballycastle. Car park and the friary itself are free to visit. There are a couple of information boards but a visit is unlikely to take you more than 20-30 minutes.
Samuel Hegarty (2 years ago)
Visited this friary after many years of meaning to do so and i wasn't disappointed. A beautiful piece of history preserved for all to enjoy. I always knew it as the black nun abbey and from my childhood heard of the haunting of the ruins by the black nun.
D. Donnelly (2 years ago)
So much history here and I was amazed to find the service mens graves from the two great wars here. Neither am I ashamed to say when I read their headstones it brings a tear, young men who have their all for my/our freedom. What a sacrifice. It moves me also when I see the headstone and it says, ‘an unknown sailor’. Known onto God. I hope God found a place for each of them.
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