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

Liam Mc Atamney (2 years ago)
Drove past it many times before an never seen it lol. Lovely ruins well worth a visit, free as well.
marie cousens (2 years ago)
The friary has no carpark but is a short walk off the road. The roofless small 16th century friary isn't accessible but you can walk all round. Info signs. No other facilities.
John Aicken (2 years ago)
Brilliant place even better when ya get to fly a drone and look from above.
Mark Quin (2 years ago)
This place was very interesting there a lot of history to the place it will interest some but not all
The Rat (3 years ago)
Good place to visit, especially on a sunny day. Parking is limited so your best bet is a wee walk from the seafront. Very good place if you need somewhere to meditate or be spiritual, lots of graves with dates from the late 1700s to 1980s. Good if you need somewhere to tell a couple ghost stories or just want some pretty pictures Julia MacQuillan (the black nun) may or may not like you, she didn't like me (family history), so be aware of her and be mindful not to anger her in any way. Please respect the other spirits there and please don't sit on the crypts, the graveyard keeper doesn't like it.
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