A friary for Conventual Franciscans, dedicated to St. Michael, was founded here in the year 1336, by James Butler, Earl of Ormonde, to whose great grandfather, Theobald, the lands of Carrick-mac-Griffin had been granted. The first warden was John Clyn, a Franciscan friar of Kilkenny; he wrote short annals from birth of Christ to the year 1315, and from that year continued them more copiously and carefully to the year 1349, when he died of the plague.
This establishment flourished till the dissolution, when it was granted with all its possessions to the Earl of Ormonde. Of the ancient buildings, the tower of the church is almost the only remaining portion; it is square and nearly perfect, projecting considerably beyond the foundation from which it rises, and is based on a single stone, from which it rises in the form of a truncated pyramid inverted; a fine flight of spiral steps in the wall leads to the summit. The monastery, which was a large and very irregular structure, has been taken down; and a modern chapel, now the parish chapel, has been erected on the site; the principal entrance is under an arch of very elegant design, which had been preserved from the ruins of the ancient building.
A Franciscan friary was erected near the site of the former in 1822, by the Rev. Michael Fleming, now R.C. Bishop of Newfoundland: the friary chapel is in the later English style, faced with hewn stone; the principal entrance is of handsome design; above it is a well-sculptured figure of a saint, and at the opposite extremity, a tower erected in imitation of that of the old abbey; the ceilings of both chapels are richly and delicately groined. The woollen manufacture was formerly carried on here very extensively, affording employment to a great number of the population; but within the last 30 years it has gradually been falling to decay. Fairs are held on Jan. 26th, Feb. 26th, March 25th, April 28th, June 15th, July 15th, Sept. 27th, Nov. 7th and Dec. 5th. A constabulary police force is stationed here.