Just over 3km (2 miles) northwest of Newport on the Achill Road (N59), beside a quiet tidal estuary, lies the beautiful ruin of Burrishoole Abbey. It was founded by Sir Richard de Burgo for the Dominican order in 1469, who resigned his lordship in and entered the friary, where he remained a friar until his death four years later. It was built without the permission of the Pope, and it wasn’t until 1486 that Pope Innocent VII instructed the Archbishop of Tuam to forgive the friars.
De Burgo was an ancestor of Risteárd an Iarainn Bourke, the second husband of Granuaile, who owned nearby Rockfleet Castle. Their son Tiobaid na Loinge is buried at Ballintubber Abbey.
Though known locally as Burrishoole Abbey, this name is inaccurate as the Dominican order did not have abbots; therefore Dominican houses are not technically abbeys.
The abbey had a troubled history, due to the political turmoil in the area. The Dominican friars were repeatedly expelled but returned again.
On one occasion in 1652 the abbey was attacked and plundered by English soldiers. They brutally treated two nuns, Honoria Bourke, daughter of Risteárd an Iarainn, and Sr. Honoria Magaen. The two nuns, who were both over 100 years old, fled to Oilean na Naoimh (Saint’s island) in nearby Lough Furnace. They were later captured, stripped naked (it was mid February) and had their ribs broken and were left to die.