The Walshs were driven from the city during the Cromwellian period. They took up residence in the Canary Islands and became involved in the wine business. Yet despite religious differences, for many years the Protestant corporation that now controlled the city allowed the exiled Walshs to appoint Catholic masters to the hospital each time the post became vacant.
In 1693, the corporation encouraged French Huguenots to settle in Waterford and establish a linen industry. The Protestant bishop Nathaniel Foy had the choir of the old friary fitted out for their religious service, hence the name the French Church. The Catholic almshouse and the Huguenot house of worship coexisted peacefully on this site for over a century.
Among the distinguished persons buried in the friary is Sir Niall O'Neill of County Antrim, who fought for King James Il at the Battle of the Boyne and who was wounded while defending the ford at Rossnaree. He was taken to Waterford where he died shortly afterwards at the early age of thirty-two. O'Neill's monument now stands against the wall on the left-hand side of the chancel. Beneath the tower arch lies the unadorned limestone grave slab of the city's most famous architect, John Roberts.
extract from the Annales Minorum (vol.iii. pp.45,
etc.) of Luke Wadding (1588-1657) refers to the present French church, for centuries the
favourite burial place of Waterford’s leading families.
Not one of the tombs or monuments alluded to by Wadding is now to
be seen, and the Lady Chapel, which was really a transept, is now
separated from the church by a high wall.
"Among the very beautiful churches that adorned the city, ours was
notable for the magnitude of the building as well as for the number and
high standing of the friars. It
was situated at the eastern side of the city, near, but inside, the
walls, close to where the ships are moored.
The founder is said to have been the illustrious Sir Hugh
Purcell. This is clearly proved
by a portion of an ancient MS. belonging to the convent, on which is
written: ‘At the right hand of the High Altar is the burial place of
Sir Hugh Purcell, Knight, who was founder of this convent.’ The
church is divided into two parts. The
principal [part] is opposite the doorway, and may be all seen from the
entrance. The second, which is
smaller, but yet of a respectable size, is at the right hand as you
enter, and is called the Chapel of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
In this monastery, I am of opinion, lie the remains of John of
Waterford, who, according to that ancient author, Pisanus, was
remarkable for the greatness of his miracles, the infirm being healed,
and even the dead raised to life at his tomb.
Here also, the same writer tells us, was buried Nicholas of
Waterford, who foretold the day of his death to his brethren.
In a secret place, hidden away, was interred Brother John Luker,
a man of pious and saintly memory in the city.
His body was exhumed, after many years, by one of his associates,
a pious secular priest, and a most religious matron, and translated by
night from the Church of St. Mary to that of his own Order, as he had
requested when dying. I was
then a stripling, and was present by accident.
His body, I was told, was found in perfect preservation, with his
habit and sandals uninjured. Here also rests Brother Donagh Daly, who, in the years of his
vigour, bore many afflictions for the Catholic Faith, and was professed
in the Franciscan Order before his death.
He left behind him, in the whole kingdom, a high opinion of his
admirable integrity, singular prudence, and praiseworthy innocence.
He died in 1614, and many things worthy of record could be
written of him...
In the larger
chapel, on the Epistle side, rested the bodies of the most illustrious
Lord Richard Poer, Baron of Curraghmore, an active defender of the
Catholic Faith, and his wife, the no less illustrious Lady Catherine de
Barry, daughter of Viscount Barrymore of Buttevant.
On the Gospel side, in the tomb of the founder, was recently
interred Sir Nicholas Walsh, Knight, one of the chief judges of the
kingdom in the Court of Common Pleas. In the large chapel of the second church, or the Chapel of the
Blessed Virgin, are the tombs, of carved stone, belonging to the most
illustrious Barons of Dunhill and Kilmeaden, founders of the chapel.
In the centre of the same chapel, at the right hand as you enter,
that is, at the Epistle side, rises, in the form of an arch in the wall,
the tomb of the Waddings.
Here was buried, in
my own recollection, the illustrious Sir Thomas Wadding, my own most
excellent uncle, whose memory is in benediction, and will ever remain
so, among his fellow citizens. He
was most generous to the poor, ever ready and open hearted in offering
hospitality to pious people and ecclesiastics, and discharged the most
onerous duties of the Christian State. Somewhat
lower down lie another uncle of mine named William, and my pious father,
Walter, to whom I owe much more than my birth, a diligent care in giving
me a Catholic training and the most constant watchfulness over my
education. Such was the size of
the church that, on the suppression of the religious houses, an asylum
[The present Holy Ghost Hospital] was erected in the centre of it on
beams placed across from wall to wall. In
the meantime the friars live in concealment in rented houses.
They assist the Catholics in every good work, though often are
they sought after, even unto death. On
two occasions the vice-governor of the city, an English soldier, acting
under instructions from the President of Munster, burst into their place
of refuge, at the south side of the town, near St. John’s gate, but
they had been forewarned of the danger, and escaped his hands.”
Acknowledgment is due to
Power's translation into English of Luke Wadding's