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Franciscans bless jarveys’ horses

By Ann Marie Foley - 25 October, 2018

Fr Liam McCarthy and Franciscans and novices arrive in a jaunting car

The world famous Killarney jaunting car horses celebrated the Feast of St Francis with a special blessing and the gift of carrots last weekend.

The local Franciscan friars arrived by jaunting car to give a very special blessing to the jarveys’ horses in their parking area in the popular tourist town on Saturday (20 October 2018).

Fr Liam McCarthy recited a special prayer and sprinkled the animals with holy water.

“We ask a special blessing on these horses. We thank you for their loyal service as they bring joy to the many tourists who come to visit the beautiful sights of Killarney. May we always treat these animals with care and respect. With them we share the beauty of Mother Earth,” he prayed.

Also with Fr Liam were some of the six novices who are at the new international noviciate in Killarney and come from Ireland (2) Canada (2), Sweden (1) and Holland (1).

The friars were delighted to meet and hear all the names of the horses and ponies and brought carrots for their new four-legged friends. One of the horses they met was called Pelé and his owner Danny Ferris introduced the friars to the other jarveys and their horses.

“It is all linked in to the Feast of St Francis of Assisi who was patron saint of the environment and who loved the animals and especially nowadays it is important with Pope Francis’ Laudato si’ and all the beautiful documents that we care for the whole of creation,” Fr McCarthy, Guardian, Franciscan Friary, Killarney, told Catholicireland.net.

The friars had blessed animals and pets at the church for the Feast of St Francis earlier in the week and made a special visit to the jarveys’ animals in the town.

“We decided there are ponies and horses here that are so much part of Killarney, they are beautiful creatures and they bring so much joy to so many tourists and especially children who maybe have never been in a jaunting car before,” Fr McCarthy explained.

Blessing the horses

He and the friars also blessed the horses and jarveys last year. Jarveys have been plying their trade in Killarney since Victorian times.


The friary, which over many years had been the novitiate of the Irish Franciscans, is now an international, inter-provincial novitiate, with novices coming from all over the world.

The Franciscans first arrived in Muckross, outside Killarney, around 1448. After the suppression of that friary, the friars stayed in the area ministering to the people. The last remaining friar from that period left Killarney in 1849.

Belgian friars who were helping to re-establish the English Franciscan Province came to Ireland in 1858 to restore the ailing Irish Province to its former state of observance of the Franciscan Rule. After a short stay in Gorey, they moved to Killarney in 1860. The Killarney Franciscan church was opened in 1867, the Friary in 1879 and in 1902 this became the Novitiate House of the Irish Province and was so for many decades.

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