Greyabbey Cistercian Abbey.


Slide show of Greyabbey images.

Greyabbey Cistercian Abbey was founded in 1193 by Affreca daughter of Godred King of the Isle of Mann and wife of John de Courcy an Anglo Norman Knight who ruled most of Ulster. It is said Affreca decided to found the Abbey after enduring a particularly bad sea crossing from the Isle of Mann, It was probably the first ecclesiastical building in Ireland to adopt the full Gothic Style of architecture.

The monks came from Holm Cultram in Cumbria and no doubt brought the architectural style with them. It is said that Greyabbey bears resemblance to Lanercost, an Augustinian Priory built about the same time in the Lake District of England.

The Abbey is situated just north of the village of Greyabbey, which grew up around the Abbey. The Latin name for the Abbey is Iugum Dei, which translated means Yoke of God.

If you're in the locality the Abbey is well worth a visit, the grounds are beautifully kept, there is a herb garden with seating where you can relax to the sound of a small stream hurrying to the nearby sea, from the herb garden a little bridge crosses the stream giving you access to the Abbey grounds.

After the Bruce wars (1315-18), Greyabbey was controlled by the O'Neills of Clandeboye who controlled it until it was dissolved in 1537, it is recorded that it consisted of sixteen town lands and the rectories of two parishes, part of which was granted to the earl of Kildare. The abbey along with others in the area were burnt by Brian O'Neill in 1569 to prevent them giving shelter to English planters who were attempting to colonise the area. In 1572 Elizabeth I granted the abbey and monastic lands to Sir Thomas Smith, although he and his son also Thomas were largely unsuccessful in taking possession.

In the early seventeenth century as part of a new plantation effort, the abbey lands were granted to Sir Hugh Montgomery, he refurbished the nave for parish worship, it was used as such until about 1778.

In Greyabbey village pronounced locally by some of the older inhabitants as "Grebba" there are a few good quality hostelry's. In 1798 the Rev. James Porter minister of the local Presbyterian church in the town, was hanged on a temporary gallows within sight of his church for his part in the United Irishmen's Rebellion, his remains are interred in the graveyard adjacent to the monastery.

Greyabbey Cistercian Abbey

Co Down
Tel +44 (0)28
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Web Site

Illustrated above is an artists impression of how the Abbey would have looked
(See also the history of County Down and John de Courcy.)

Read about Greyabbey village in 1837 from Lewis' Topographical Survey of Ireland.

Greyabbey Cistercian Abbey

Read about Greyabbey from Mary Lowry's Story of Belfast.