The oldest Cistercian abbey ever built in Ireland! Located in County Louth, 15km from Drogheda, Mellifont Abbey (An Mhainistir Mhór in Gaelic) was a monument from which all the following abbeys were inspired. A pioneer of its kind, its architecture, although in ruins today, is simply fascinating! Discover Ireland at the time of the abbeys with this construction which forever marked Irish religious history.
Mellifont Abbey was built in 1142, following the decision of Saint Malachie, an archbishop of Armagh, to initiate the very first Cistercian abbey in Ireland. The challenge was great!
After several years of construction, the Abbey became a real reference point because of its incredibly innovative architecture (inspired by continental Europe), as well as the beauty and finesse of its finely carved arches. In the face of such success, the abbey was consecrated eb 1157, and became the official seat supervising up to 38 Cistercian monasteries. Its cultural and religious influence extended from 1142 until 1539, when Henry VIII ordered the dissolution of any religious order that ran counter to his own.
It was in 1690 that William of Orange made Mellifont Abbey a real headquarters. His army camped nearby, preparing to take part in the Battle of the Boyne.
The place is today more symbolic than anything else: Mellifont Abbey has not been able to face time and Irish History. The abbey is now in ruins, and there are very few notable remains. But the visit is still worthwhile!
It all starts at the Visitor Centre, where a guide will present you with a beautiful exhibition on the construction methods of religious buildings in the Middle Ages. There you will discover some rather clever old techniques, and find out how and by what means Mellifont Abbey was built.
During your visit, you will recognize among the ruins some finely worked Romanesque arches, as well as a large 14th century room where the members of the abbey used to meet (called the “capitular”). Finally, a washbasin dating from the 13th century has withstood the rigours of time and is one of the main objects of great value that have remained in these places.
For the rest, many columns and sections of walls have remained standing, and one can easily guess the architecture of the abbey despite the ruins. A very beautiful visit therefore, which plunges you into the heart of religious Ireland in an idyllic environment!
every day from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.