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Inch Abbey.

(Island or river meadow.)

View a slide show of Inch Abbey.

Inch Abbey was a pre Norman abbey called Inis Cumhscraigh it was plundered by the Vikings in 1002 and again in 1149. After the Norman invasion John de Courcy, in 1180 as part of the Christian crusade in Ireland suppressed the monastery. At this point versions differ, one states that he installed the monks from Errenagh three miles to the south, this house was founded in 1127 of the Savingac order an order from Normandy, the other that monks were brought from Furness in Lancashire.

The Norman invasion of Ireland, was conceived in Rome its aims to replace or rather to bring the Irish church which had divested somewhat from that of Rome into line with the theology of Rome. Pope Adrian V11 the first and only English pope, gave Henry II permission to invade Ireland on a religious conquest., from this Rome was to receive 1 penny per year taxation from each household. Since then almost a millemium has passes, it is interesting to reflect on the amount of money which has flowed from Ireland to Rome as a result of these events.

The Abbey ,as many others was intended as a center of Norman influence and propaganda, in 1380 an edict debarred Irishmen from joining the community.

In a letter of protest to the Pope a hundred and fifty years after the Normans had came to Ireland, Donal O'Neill who claimed to be " King of Ulster and all of Ireland by heir and hereditary right ", he details his pedigree as a right to speak "On behalf of the Kings and magnates and the whole laity," reciting, "that since the coming of Henry (II) the English had ravaged Ireland; how the Pope had belied Henry's promise that he would extend the boundaries of the Church; how the cathedrals of the Irish were plundered and their bishops imprisoned;and how the very clergy of the English asserted that it was no more a sin to kill an Irish man that to kill a dog". He cites that the monks of the Cistercian order at Inch in the Diocese of Down, were men who shamelessly beyond doubt put into practice what they preached, " for they appeared in public, bearing arms, they attacked and slay the Irish, and yet they celebrate their masses not with standing". (Famous Cities of Ireland by Stephen Gwynn, Publisher Maunsel 1915)

The most striking feature of the remaining structure are the three lancet windows which once lit the alter, at the eastern end of the church.

Other buildings on the site are a chapter house, an infirmary and a bake house.

Slide show of Inch Abbey.