Burrishoole Abbey was founded in 1469 by Richard (Burke) de Burgo and was originally a wooden structure. The Abbey was situated alongside the old town on the port of Burrishoole. In the 14th and 15th centuries, the harbour was a very busy one, with trade exceeding that of Galway. Clew Bay was even listed on Italian maps of the time. Despite its remoteness, friars from the Abbey travelled to the continent where they are recorded as having worked and studied in Spain, Belgium and France.
The Abbey was abandoned in 1698 with the Penal Laws. The Abbey roof eventually collapsed in 1793. When originally built, it consisted of the main church and a convent chapel to the south side. A number of years later, a bell tower was built as an additional feature. Today, all that remains intact is the church and all that remains of the convent are the ruins of the beautiful cloister. The oldest inscribed monument within the abbey is the O'Kelly altar tomb. The inscription on the tomb is in Latin and gives the date 1623.
The Abbey was inhabited and used by the Dominican Order which did not actually have abbots - so, the more correct term for Burrishoole Abbey is Burrishoole Friary.
Mass continues to be celebrated annually at the abbey on the feast of St. Dominic for the dead of the parish. As part of your visit, do not miss the 'Angel Grotto', a memorial to all of the children buried here.