|History of OSA in Cork|
Cork City possesses a rich and remarkable history. Unlike other cities it is built on a marsh and an island. The river Lee, on its journey south-eastwards, divides and meets again to form an elongated island which, in earlier days became flooded at high tide.
The City of Cork - its name derived from the Gaelic "Corcach", a marsh - was founded here. It grew from small beginnings, a monastery and church founded by St. Finbarr.
The Augustinians, the Order of St. Augustine, owe their origins to Saint Augustine (354-430 AD), from Hippo in Algeria, who inspired men and women to live in religious communities.
By the 13th century many different Augustinian communities existed and in 1256 Pope Alexander IV created the Grand Union of all existing Augustinian Congregations to form what we know today as the Order of St. Augustine.
The Order of St. Augustine came to Cork some time between 1270 and 1300. As the Augustinian historian, Fr. Thomas C. Butler OSA writes: "If we take 1272 as a date of petition for approval to open a foundation in Cork, it would have taken some years for the planning and building so we can safely assume that the latter took place between 1275 and 1285.
The Priory was dedicated to the Most Holy Trinity, but was recorded on ancient maps as St. Austin's 1545 and St. Augustine's 1610. Later still it became known as the "Red Abbey" because of the red sandstone used in the church. The Towers were added after the middle of the 14th century.
The Red Abbey was raided in 1630, but the friars, forewarned, had fled. This was a short lived closure and the friars were back again, until 1644 when all priests and friars were expelled from the city, and the Red Abbey was taken over by the protestant Dean of Cork, Richard Boyle.
Lady Fanshawe leased the Red Abbey, but had to leave when Cromwell came in 1649, and stabled his horses in the building.
Returns on the State of Popery for 1766 give "a friary - Augustinian - in Fishamble Lane. It was located where a side entrance leads into the Franciscan church. Formerly Mill St, the site of the church is shown on De Rocque's map of 1759.
In 1776 the friars were living in an old tottering house, with an old tottering chapel nearby. They started to look for a suitable site and ran into difficulty with the bishop of Cork. The friary in Fishamble Lane was in the parish of St. Finbar's, and the new site was in SS Peter and Paul's.
In 1778 the Augustinians chose a site on Brunswick St, at the time within the South Parish. Again the Bishop objected, but the Augustinians decided to go ahead with a chapel and dwelling in Brunswick St. now known as St. Augustine's Lane. The community was suspended by the Bishop. The case was taken to Rome.
A decision was given in favour of the friars, with a command to the bishop to bless and open the church when completed. The first stone was laid on November 27th 1780. The Bishop complied with the mandate from the Holy See, and he blessed the new church on June 4th 1781, and he restored the Prior and community to the jurisdiction of the diocese.
The church was extended in 1872 and the Priory built on Washington St, known then as Great George St. The present church structure was built in 1942 and furthered extended in 1972. The Priory was rebuilt in 1982.