Straide Friary was founded c. 1240 by Jordan de Exeter. It was originally a Franciscan Friary but by 1252 it had been handed over to the Dominicans by Jordan de Exeter at the insistence of his daughter-in-law Basilia. The surviving structure has a 13th Century chancel with six small ‘lancet style’ windows. Most of the remainder of the building dates back to a 15th Century restoration. A hallmark of the building is its high altar, inclusive of a Pieta flanked by two donors. A beautifully sculptured ‘Founders Tomb’ with flamboyant tracery is another noteworthy feature. Included are eight smiling figures, known as the ‘Laughing Magi’. The friary was dissolved in 1578 but friars continued to serve in the area until the 19th Century.
The friary is the venue for a special dawn mass every Easter Sunday morning and serves as a magnificent backdrop for wedding photographs. It is also an extremely popular tourist attraction and Friary tours form an integral part of Michael Davitt Museum Services.