‘The Abbey’ was founded in 1296 on St. Stephen’s Island where the present courthouse is situated. In 1483 a school of advanced theology was instituted there; in 1513 Maurice O Fehely, Archbishop of Tuam was buried in the church. Under the Cromwellians the friars were expelled. In 1657 the friary was destroyed, and the church was turned into a court house. The present court house stands on the same site. In 1660 a new church was erected on the present site of the Abbey. In 1766 there were 13 friars here. In 1774 a novitiate was opened here. In 1781 the church was rebuilt and around 1836 the present church was opened. The present friary was built or rebuilt in 1820, and renovated in 1970s and became the first Franciscan parish in modern Ireland in 1971.
Remains: there are no substantial remains of the buildings, but an interesting collection of medieval tombstones etc. can be seen in the present friary garden.
The rapid expansion of the Irish Franciscan Province in the 1920’s caused them to make better arrangements for the students (who attended UCG), and they laid the foundation stone for St. Anthony’s College in 1933. A new wing was added to the College in 1941 to cater for the “student explosion” caused by the closure of their college in Louvain, and the impossibility of sending students to Rome during World War II. St. Anthony’s is now part of UCG. More