Abbeyshrule Cistercian Abbey
Abbeyshrule Cistercian Abbey ruins - photo by Clare Frances
Abbeyshrule Cistercian Abbey, The ‘Abbey of Shrule’ in its present form was colonised by the Cistercians from Mellifont Abbey under the patronage of the O’Farrells of Annaly, although there may have been an earlier Christian foundation on this site. The Cistercian monastery was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary around 1150AD and the construction of the current abbey itself dates to c.1200. The affiliation changed to Bective Abbey in 1228.
Like other monasteries, Abbeyshrule suffered under the dissolution of the monasteries. Queen Elizabeth I granted the abbey to Sir Robert Dillon, Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, one of the four courts of Ireland. The ruins of the abbey consist of the abbey church, the outline of the cloister garth and a later tower house to the South East. The abbey church shows three major phases of construction and change, beginning with the original 13th century aisle-less church.
The abbey ruins show the impact that the change of fortunes and ownership has had on the structure. Sections of the 13th century church walls remain extant, in particular the east and north walls, and the crossing arch beneath the distinctive double bellcote. Further modifications took place either in the 15th or 16th centuries, which reduced the size of the chapel. In the 17th or 18th century, walls were inserted in the original chancel area to the east to modify the space as a smaller parish chapel. The graveyard has several interesting historic gravestones and the shaft of a high cross.
The four-storey tower house is located approximately 30 metres from the abbey church in the south-east corner of the cloister area. The upper floors were accessed by a stone spiral staircase, leading onto mural passages within the thickness of the walls. The tower house was likely built after the dissolution of the monasteries and probably dates to the late 16th century.
The abbey and graveyard are open to the public
Useful links: Discover Ireland - Abbeyshrule Monastery, Ask About Ireland - Abbeyshrule Abbey, Moxham Ireland - Abbeyshrule
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