BALLYBEG ABBEY 
 
       Very little is left today of the church of the Augustinians Friary of Baltybeg. Before it was occupied by a farmhouse and out-offices. Its west end being a cowhouse. Over these humble buildings towered the west gable with its graceful, lofty, early English couplet. The same splendid workmanship which we find in the neighbouring Friary of Buttevant is present here, though to a less extent. Thus this couplet had large in ward splays, and its lancets are divided internally by a very fine banded shaft having a moulded base, and a bold and richly carved cap of the peculiar foliage for the period. Into this part of the church at some time Subsequent to the original erection was built the massive belfry. It rests on four peirs, two of them in the western internal angle of the church upon
which vaults are turned. It was possible to ascend to the top by a stairs constructed in one of the piers. The vaulting is ornamented with some grotesque heads, and there are circular holes in it as if a peal of bells had been hung in the upper portion. At the east end of the church fragments of the chancel wall alone remain. The east window to which Smith refers in his History of Cork long since had disappeared. In the south wall of the chancel and beside it there is an altar tomb. Opposite to the sedllla in the north wall are two other altar tombs. Of the cloisters only the enclosing wall remains, and it has portions of the corbels which carried the beams of the lean-to roof over the arcade. Midway in the east wall of the cloister the chapter doorway can be identified; the moulded base of its Jambs is all that remains. The lavabo has been re-erected by the Board of Works at the left-centre to the southern cloister to the refectory was situated.   From the ground plan of its remains it would appear that Ballybeg priory was a more imposing structure than the neighbouring Friary at Buttevant. Its church was somewhat larger, being 166 feet. There is no evidence of the existence of any transept in Ballybeg, though it would appear that there was a chapel or sacristy about 25 feet square in the angle formed by the south wall of the nave and the eastern wall of the cloister. Ballybeg cloister is 90 feet square as compared with the 60 ft. square cloister of Buttevant. The Buttevant cloister extended to the north of, and midway from, the church. Ballybeg cloister was situated beside the southern of the nave and extended westward beyond it.   There is a tower in Ballybeg which stands in somewhat the same relation to the cloister as does Caislean Caomhin tower to Buttevant cloister. The belfry of Buttevant stood midway in the church, separating the nave from the choir; the tower in Ballybeg rose over the western end of the nave. The tower at the junction of the two roads referred to earlier on was probably situated on the outer enclosing walls of the abbey and might very well have been a gate-tower.   Mr. Croften Croker in his researches tells of the discovery, in the field in which the columbarium stands, of a sepulchre, the Interior of which was lined with slabs having figures of the apostles quaintly carved thereon, and containing a stone coffin. We are told that when St. Augustine was consecrated bishop, being obliged to live with his clergy In the city, he formed them into a regular community. Every member of this community was required to give what he processed to the poor, or to throw in the common stock house, out of which the provost, who was chosen yearly, distributed to everyone what was necessary. If anyone deserted this state after he had embraced it he was punished as an opostate and guilty of breaking his vows. This is the origin of the regular canons of St. Augustine, an order which was very widely scattered in medieval times and which now consists of only one house which is associated with the canons regular of the lateran. The first foundation of the order in Ireland was the convent of all hallows, Dublin endowed by Dermot Mac Morrough, Dermot of the foreigners. The chapter of Christ Church under the influence of St. Lorcan OToole also accepted this rule, and the number of the order houses in the country became so considerable that the canons regular of St. Augustine occupied in the religious life of Ireland a place as important as that of the Benedictines in England. They had as many monasteries as had all the other religious orders taken together; all the cathedral chapters and all the collegiate churches were held by regular canons; and being a regular canon was almost a Sine Qua non of promotion to a bishopric. And so in 1229 Philip de Barry endowed the priory of Ballybeg for regular canons following the rule of St. Augustine and in remembrance of his endowment his equestrian statue in brass was erected in the church. Philip's grandson David enlarged the revenues of this priory, the same David who endowed the Franciscan friary in the neighbouring city of Buttevant.