Statement from Fr Aidan McGrath OFM, Minister Provincial, The Irish Franciscans

5 September 2022

“After much consideration and evaluation, we the Irish Franciscans, must today announce our withdrawal from Clonmel. This is a sad and difficult decision for us, as we have spent over 700 years in this town, offering our services and continually benefiting from the support of its people. This difficult decision is however unavoidable, as we like so many religious bodies deal with and respond to our ageing and reducing membership.

Our first concern today is for the Friars and staff members who will be impacted by this decision. We will be immediately commencing discussions to ensure that the consequences of this announcement are dealt with in the best possible way for all involved. And I take this opportunity to thank our Friars and staff for the wonderful work they have done here and the relationships they have cultivated and developed in the local area.

Indeed, today I acknowledge with pride all the work done and various struggles faced by the Friars in Clonmel, dating back to 1269.

We Franciscans were always welcome and felt supported in Clonmel. I so regret having to make this announcement today to the people of Clonmel who have prayed with us and supported us in so many ways over the centuries. I thank the people of Clonmel and the surrounding area, and all who have gone before, for the friendship and support to us Franciscans and our work. We will be eternally grateful.

We will also be meeting with our volunteers in Waterford Friary today, from which we Franciscans departed in May 2019. We did however continue to support the Waterford Friary one day a week from our resources in Clonmel. This direct support will regretfully no longer be possible.  I also want to recognise and thank our volunteers in Waterford for the wonderful work they do on behalf of the local community – and we will now be engaging with them on how their important work can continue despite our withdrawal from Clonmel.

I wish to advise that our final Mass will be celebrated in Clonmel Friary Church on the 6th January 2023. 

We have not made a final decision on the future of the Clonmel Friary at this time; however, we will be exploring various possibilities in this regard in the coming months. When we have reached a decision of the future of the Friary, I will make a further announcement.

And finally, I ask for your support and prayers as we deal with the outcomes of this most difficult and unavoidable announcement. Thank You”.