Updated: 01/04/17 : 05:56:45
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Protests planned as Order sell Abbey and Friary

Protests by conservationist and local historical groups are set to begin this morning, Saturday, as news emerges of the sale of Sligo Abbey and the Friary in Sligo town.

In statements released late last night both An Taisce and the locally-based heritage group the Sligo Field Club have condemned the sale of the Dominican Abbey, founded in 1252, which is the burial place of many distinguished families such as Sir Donagh O'Conor, Lord of Sligo, and his wife Lady Elinor Butler, and the noted O'Crean family.

The Dominican Order, also known as the Order of Preachers (Ordo Praedicatorum), owners of the Abbey on Abbey Street and the Friary on High Street, a popular daily Mass venue, have so far not made any statement on the sale of both locations.

However Mayser Productions, an entertainment company based in New York, who claim on social media platforms, to be the new owners of Sligo Abbey are intent on transforming the Abbey into a modern entertainment complex.

'Impressive roofing structure'

The refurbished Abbey, they say, will feature a impressive roofing structure to allow an open-air weather proof venue for weddings, tours, concerts and parties. The installation of the roof, ancillary flood lighting, kitchens and bars will begin next month. A Bar-B-Q area has already been completed.

  An architect's impression of the type of roof to be installed by Mayser Productions at Sligo Abbey

Officially called the Dominican Friary of Sligo, the Abbey was originally built in 1253 by the order of Maurice Fitzgerald, Baron of Offaly. It was destroyed in 1414 by a fire, ravaged during the Nine Years' War in 1595 and once more in 1641 during the Ulster Uprising. The friars moved out in the 18th century, but Lord Palmerston restored the Abbey in the 1850s.

The Order, with just six friars left in Sligo, are to return to the Dominicans homebase in France and will however retain their educational institution, Newbridge College, Newbridge, Co. Kildare.

       Restaurateur Des Faul with visitors at the new Bar-B-Q in Sligo Abbey. Photo: James Connolly

No details of the sale of the Friary on High Street have been released however a spokesperson for Mayser Productions told Sligo Today that he understood a hotel and private apartments were 'in the pipeline' in a new development for the site which will see the existing church demolished.

President of the Sligo Chamber of Commerce and local restaurateur Des Faul, pictured above, said, "Its got to be good for Sligo, it'll bring more visitors to the town and already there is great interest in the project from many quarters."

               The covered cloister will be fitted out as a Parisian style dining experience

More to follow...