Located just outside of Ennis, the 14th century Quin Abbey makes for a great mini excursion from town.
The intact Quin Abbey is a fine example of medieval architecture and allows you to step back in time for a short while as you wander up to the top of the tower for incredible views of the surrounding countryside.
In the guide below, you’ll discover everything you need to know about visiting the incredible Quin Abbey in Clare.
Some quick need-to-knows about Quin Abbey in Ennis
Although a visit to Quin Abbey in Ennis is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
Quin Abbey is located in the village of Quin, just 11km or a 15-minute drive east from Ennis in County Clare.
2. Opening hours
The Abbey is open from Tuesday to Sunday and closed on Mondays. From Tuesday to Friday the opening hours are from 10am to 5pm with the last entry in at 4.30pm. While on the weekend, it’s open from 9am to 4pm with the last entry at 3.30pm (see latest opening hours here).
3. Admission and parking
Both admission to Quin Abbey and car parking are free to all visitors, making this one of the more popular free things to do in Clare.
History of Quin Abbey
Quin Abbey was built between 1402 and 1433 by Sioda Cam MacNamara for Fathers Purcell and Mooney of the Franciscan order. An earlier monastery had occupied the same site but burned down in 1278.
Before the Franciscan abbey was built, a Norman castle was constructed on the site before being destroyed in 1318. Some of the remains of the castle can still be seen today around the present friary.
In 1541, King Henry VIII confiscated the friary and passed it to Conor O’Brian, the Earl of Thomond. In 1590, the MacNamara’s regained control and restored it and turned it into a college in 1640.
In 1650, Cromwell’s forces attacked and murdered the monks of the abbey and destroyed some of the buildings. Still, the resilient Franciscans returned and restored the abbey in 1670 until the last friar, John Hogan, died in 1820.
Since then, it’s been considered a national monument and opened to visitors with a caretaker looking after the remaining structure.
Is Quin Abbey worth visiting?
A visit out to Quin village and the Abbey is worthwhile for those interested in medieval history. The village was a fine example of a medieval settlement with the well-intact 14th century friary a great place to appreciate the architecture of the time.
Quin Abbey is one of the most well-preserved Franciscan abbeys in Ireland, with much of the remains in their original state.
The medieval high alter remains in its original position with an early 17th century stucco crucifixion on the wall above a tomb. The chapter room, kitchen, refectory, dormitories and tower also stand as they have for centuries, with the tower offering incredible panoramic views.
There is a small visitor centre near the entrance where you can read more about the history and architecture of the abbey.
Things to do near Quin Abbey
One of the beauties of Quin Abbey in Ennis is that it’s a short spin away from a clatter of other attractions, both man-made and natural.
Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from Quin Abbey (plus places to eat and where to grab a post-adventure pint!).
1. Ennis for a feed
Just 15 minutes away from the abbey is County Clare’s largest town, Ennis. The charming town has loads of places to grab a bite to eat, as you’ll discover in our Ennis restaurants guide. Brogan’s Bar is a must-visit, with smooth pints and great gourmet food. There’s some great pubs in Ennis, too!
2. Ennis Friary
Right in the middle of town, Ennis Friary is the historic ruins of another Franciscan friary built in the 13th century. It was turned into a school in 1375 and was the last one of Catholic theology to survive the Reformation. The building was handed over to the Church of Ireland as a place of worship until the late 19th century. It’s now open to the public for visitors to admire the old stone carvings and architecture.
3. Bunratty Castle
The historic Bunratty Castle is located in the middle of Bunratty village and it’s widely regarded as one of the best things to do in Shannon. It’s one of the most well-known medieval castles in Ireland and was founded in 1250 by Robert De Muscegros. It’s now open as a historic site and folk park with banquets.
4. Knappogue Castle
The impressive Knappogue Castle was once the stately home of noble medieval lords in the historic Shannon region. Today, it’s open to visitors for a medieval-style elaborate banquet and accommodation. It’s conveniently located just 13km away from Ennis town, making it an easy evening excursion.
5. Loop Head Lighthouse
Southwest of Ennis town, you’ll find the Loop Head Peninsula jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean. The peninsula has some of the most spectacular scenery on the Wild Atlantic Way and is worth the drive. The Loop Head Lighthouse stands right at the tip, open for interesting tours and dramatic views across the water to Dingle and up to the Cliffs of Moher.
FAQs about Quin Abbey in Clare
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from when was Quin Abbey built to what there is to see.
In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.
Is Quin Abbey worth visiting?
Yes! You can climb to the top and soak up some incredible views of the surrounding countryside.
Do you have to pay to enter Quin Abbey?
No – there’s no tickets needed for Quin Abbey.
Is there much to see near the Abbey?
Yes, you’ve lots to see and do in Ennis and hundreds of things to do nearby (see guide above).
Elisha is a freelance writer, content creator and blogger and her work can be read in Lonely Planet, Remote Lands and Matador Network. You’ll usually find her travelling in offbeat places or hiking wherever there are mountains; always with a camera in hand.