783 years in the service of the Catholic Faith

The Dominicans arrived in Athenry in 1241. Athenry was a walled Anglo Norman city and the surrounding hinterland, Esker, was controlled by the Gaelic Irish. The Dominicans established  Ss Peter and Paul priory where they could serve both. 

Tension was high between the two peoples and within a decade the Anglo Normans were attacked by the Gaelic Irish in the First Battle of Athenry. During and after the battle, the friars cared for the wounded and dying of both. The Blessed Virgin appeared in the aftermath of battle

For 300 years, the Dominicans served the spiritual, educational, even medical needs of  Athenry, Esker and other surrounding areas.

From the time of King Henry VIII apostasy, 1530 until 1880 the Dominican friars served the needs of the faithful under the shadow of persecution often as outlaws, hiding in the Esker woods returning to  their priory when they could. Despite the constant threat, the friars also continued their work of education. 

During the Cromwellian invasion, the priory was destroyed and the penal laws were promulgated. At this point the Dominicans went fully underground establishing a ,

“mass house” in the most isolated part of Esker (on the grounds of Esker monastery).

In Esker, despite dire poverty, the Dominican community increased. In 1715 they built a bigger shelter  where the current monastery building is dedicating their new priory also to Ss Peter and Paul. By 1750, the Dominicans provided education for 600 poor local children, a college  of advanced studies and later a trade school. In 1893, after 652 years serving the Athenry/Esker locale, the Dominicans left,  giving  Esker College and priory to the bishop who used it as a seminary.

Within the property is a very old holy well dedicated to St Dominic. For hundreds of years until now farmers have come to draw water from the well on the feast of St Dominic.

In 1901, the diocese passed Esker Monastery to the Redemptorists, who served until very recently. The Redemptorist yearly novena attracts hundreds of participants to the Monastery Church.

Today Esker Monastery is for sale. There is great interest in the property however none of those interested want to keep the Monastery and Grounds in service of the church. Developers want the buildings, as the government is paying handsomely for accommodation for illegal immigrants, Local farmers want the land, etc.