Augustinian Abbey

The remains of the Augustinian Priory on the banks of the Ara, west of Bridge Street, are today, unfortunately, confined to memory. All that remained of the monastery up until 1958 was an arch, which formerly supported the tower. And like the remains of this long lost establishment, the history of the Priory is also very meagre.

A Hazy History

It is commonly accepted among historians that the Abbey was founded between the years 1270 and 1290, but nothing of its history is recorded until 1540, the year of its suppression. In that year, according to the auditor's report, the Abbey, with 23 houses, a mill and 92 acres of land was given to Dermot Ryan, at the yearly rent of eight pence. After the Cromwellian confiscations, possession of the land passed into the hands of Erasmus Smith, who transformed the site from one that had been a place of worship to one that would become a centre of learning.

A Centre of Education

Smith established grammar schools in Tipperary, Galway and Drogheda, where sons of his Protestant tenants and other local boys were educated. The first building was destroyed during the Williamite War, while the second survived until 1820. The structure that succeeded it was damaged by fire in 1941, soon after the Christian Brothers had assumed control of it. On 3 October 1955 the Father Humphrey's Memorial School was opened, and today it still operates as a Christian Brothers' School, this after major extensions were added in 1980 and 2002. The school is named after Fr. David Humphreys, who, during the late 1800s, campaigned for education rights for Catholic boys, who had, for so long, been excluded from the Erasmus Smith school.

One of the Abbey's most famous past pupils was Standish O'Grady (1846 - 1928), who has been hailed as the father of the Irish Literary revival.

Sources - W. S. Doyle, "Fragments"; D. G. Marnane, "The Excel Guide to the Heritage of Tipperary Town"

previousPrevious - Tipperary Town
Next - The Barracksnext