Stepping back the centuries into Augustinian history we will arrive in Ireland at the time of the Normans. Around 1280 the Augustinians established their first Irish foundation in Dublin. In the course of the next 150 years, the Augustinians will establish a further 21 Friaries throughout Ireland during the pre-Reformation period. Dungarvan followed shortly after Dublin in 1290, while Galway was the last to be founded, in 1500.
Initially, however, they were very much part of the invading forces, and so did not move into the strictly Gaelic parts of the country in the south and north and west. Thus at the beginning of their history, the Augustinians were ruled from Norman-England. But inevitably, as time went on, the now Anglo-Irish Augustinians (in keeping with the general trend) began to seek more ‘independence’. This resulted in limited ‘local government’, which was officially granted at a General Chapter of the Order held at Rimini in 1394.
From about 1400 onwards, a bigger change took place, which, as it turned out was mostly responsible for keeping the Order alive in Ireland in later years. Sometime before 1400, a Priory was built at Ardnaree in Co. Sligo, and from then onwards the Augustinians pushed further into the Gaelic parts of Sligo, Mayo and Galway. And so, it came about that soon the native element predominated in Ireland. The Augustinians were now Gaelic Augustinians. This was officially recognised in 1457 when Hugh O’Malley, the superior of Murrisk (Co. Mayo) was appointed Vicar of the Irish Chapter, by the Father General.
But the Gaelic element came to the fore, not only because it reflected the general Gaelic resurgence the whole country was experiencing in those years, but also because the newly-founded western houses belonged to the Observant Movement, a reform movement that was spreading through the Order at the time, and that, increasingly, had official Roman backing. This movement looked for a more strict observance of the Rule and Constitutions. Banada in Co Sligo, which was founded in 1423 belonged to it, and soon this ideal spread to the other western houses, and indeed to others too. In 1479 these Observant houses received their independence from England.