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Irish Gravestone Inscriptions, Tracing your Irish Ancestors: Corrick Abbey
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Corrick Abbey

Corrick Abbey


At various times in the past the abbey has been referred to as Corac, Corock, Caorock, Choracke, Corrig, Carrick, Corick or Corrick.  It is thought that the first religious use of the site may have been c.560 when St. Columba founded a monastery and centre of learning, Corac, where the Glenelly and Owenkillew rivers met.  It is believed that eventually this monastery was associated with the monastery at Ardstraw, Co. Tyrone. It is not now known when or why this monastery ceased.

Later about 1465 Corickmore or Corrick Abbey was founded by the 3rd Order Regular Franciscan Friars.  The Tertiaries or Third Order of St. Francis were a lay institute founded by St. Francis of Assisi five years before his death in 1226.  The members of the Third Order Regular lived in monasteries or convents, but did not come into existence until after the death of Francis.  These Franciscan brethren were predominantly lay people who lived in the community while doing pastoral work in the surrounding parish.  Sometimes there were schools attached to the monasteries.  It is not known if there was a school at Corrick. The monastery ceased to be in use by 1603, due to the dissolution of the monasteries.  There were also Franciscan friaries at Pubble (Newtownstewart) and Scarvagherin (near Spamount), Co. Tyrone.


The Inquisition of 1603 found that the monastery, cell or house of Franciscans of Caorock had three parts or more of a qr. of land, val. 1s 8d.  The grantee was Sir Henry Piers, and the assignee was Sir Daniel Lee (or Leigh).


It is mentioned in the Inquisitions of Ulster 23rd August 1609 taken in Dungannon, when “the late abbot of the late abbey, monasterie, or religious house of friers of the third order of St. Francis, called Choracke, both before and at the makinge of the said statue or act of dissolution of monasteries, was lawfully seized in his demesne, as of fee, in right of his house, of and in the said abbay or house of friers; and of and in three Balliboes and a sessiagh of land, parcel of the said late abbay or religious house, in the parishe of baydonagh, which said abbay, monasterie or house of friers, with the said lands and possessions thereof lately came to his maters hands and possession by the said act of dissolutione.”  A ballyboe (or cowland) was a quantity of land containing sixty acres English, or thereabouts, and a sessiagh was a third part of a ballyboe.


The abbey is shown on the Bodley map of “Parte of the Barone of Strabane 1609” where it is called “Corigg”.  From the Civil Survey 1654 Vol III the proprietors are named as “The Heyrs of Sir Allexander Stewartt knt. One of the besiegers of Derry  The denomination of the land is “Carrick Abbey Land - fowre Ballibose called Leardan, Laystra, Tullinadally and Bellynashrade.”


From the Topographical Directory of Ireland (Lewis 1837)-“In the reign of Jas. I it was given, with all its possessions, to Sir Henry Piers, who soon after sold it to Sir Arthur Chichester; it was subsequently granted to the Hamilton family, whose descendant is the present proprietorThere are some highly picturesque remains of this abbey, affording an idea of the original extent and elegance of the buildings.  Here was also a strong castle or fortress, of which there are some remains


About 1930 Oliver Davies was entrusted by the Archaeological Section of the Belfast Natural History and Philosophical Society to restore the east window of the church.  Most of the inside stones of the east window were found scattered around the burying ground, but at that time it was not thought to be advisable to completely rebuild the inner arc.  The walling which closed the window was removed and three rustless steel bars were inserted to support the central mullion.  The window, which is of a type typical of Irish late 15th or 16th century work, was originally glazed on the outer face.  Fragments of other windows are scattered throughout the burying ground.  One of the round-headed arches and a portion of another were replaced at this time. The ivy was also removed and the wall re-pointed at this time “so that with a small amount of supervision the ruin will survive many centuries yet.”


There was also a detailed study of the architecture of the church done at this time.  Many of the cut stones were found to be in use as gravestones and these were replaced with other stones where necessary.  There are still in existence in the burying ground three carved stones of a similar shape.  They are now in use as grave markers and have been described as of a type used in a spiral staircase.  The measurement of the church is roughly 47½ feet by 16½ feet and the walls are an average 3½ feet in thickness.


In 1930 The Rev. J. McFadden of Badoney Presbyterian Church had what was probably a holy water stoup in the manse garden. This had been found in a field just below the abbey. The Rev. Adam Whyte of the Scot’s Presbyterian Church, Gortin, used to possess what is believed to be a font from Corrick Abbey. By 1930 it had passed to Mr. Myles of Newtownstewart.

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