Within three years of Dominic's death, the movement of preaching friars had already come to Ireland. In 1224, a small band landed in Dublin and thus began a presence of the Dominicans that has been sustained in Ireland up to the present. Mind you, the friars experienced the vicissitudes of life in a torn and often turbulent society, and there were times when that presence was extremely thin on the ground, but nearly eight centuries of tradition in Ireland is a proud and wonderful record. Today, Dominican sisters and friars and laity form a vibrant part of Irish society.
The founding group, way back in 1224, was a mission from England, where the order was already established in London and Oxford. Indeed, for many centuries the Dominicans in Ireland were part of the province of England - a relationship that was not always comfortable or congenial! For all that, the Anglo-Norman and the Irish friars spread through the country with amazing energy, setting up communities and churches in Dublin, Drogheda, Kilkenny Waterford, Limerick, and Cork before 1230. The next wave moved inland, to Mullingar, Athenry, Sligo, Cashel, Rosbercon, Kilmallock, to name but a few, and the link with England ensured that new friars could study in the great centres of Oxford, London, and Cambridge.
Many of these early foundations survive as fine ruins in Kilmallock, Athenry, Sligo, and Cashel, among others, but there are communities of friars today in many of the ancient places founded by the first Dominicans. If the priories and churches are of more recent vintage, the tradition is deep and old. Only one of our churches still in use - the Black Abbey in Kilkenny - dates from pre-Reformation times.
Today, the province of Dominicans in Ireland numbers over 200 friars, most of whom are based in Ireland and engaged in various forms of preaching: in churches, writing, teaching, chaplaincies, etc. Abroad, we have friars in Latin America, the Caribbean, and India, to mention some places, and there are nine young men who are in the process of formation as friars preachers. Whatever may happen, and whatever changes the new millennium calls forth, we have good grounds to believe that the tradition of Dominic has a role in Ireland long into the future.
We are lay people who are Dominicans and members of the Dominican Order. Our inspiration is St Dominic. His mission was to preach Jesus Christ and bring the Gospel message to all but especially those who felt lost, confused or had gone astray. We form one family with the friars and the sisters. We share in the apostolic mission of the Order and actively share in the life of the Church. We are a mixed bag of saints and sinners, worldwide we are over 150,000. We meet regularly to pray and study together and share each other’s joys, problems, and hope. We reflect on the Word of God seeking inspiration for our own lives and the lives of others.
St. Aengus Chapter meet:
When : Tuesday- Fortnightly
Time : 7.30pm – 9pm
Where: Calaroga Room in the church
Contact: Don Casserley (President) Through the Presbytery 01-4513757