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Old Mellifont Abbey

in County Louth.

Old Mellifont Abbey.

Old Mellifont Abbey is located in County Louth on the banks of the river Mattock, 6 miles north west of Drogheda it was founded by St Malachi of Armagh in 1142 on land granted by Donogh O'Carroll, king of Oriel. Little remains of the original buildings. Visitors today leaving the site office cross through the north transept of the church, of which only lower portions of the walls and piers survive. These are mostly the remains of thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth century rebuilding.

The most substantial of the cloistral remains at the south of the church is the chapter house which displays fine groined vaulting. Nothing remains of the west range save the foundation stones, as is true of the south range. Nearby are portions of the arcade that once surrounded the central yard of the cloister. Near the car park is the substantial ruin of the monastic gatehouse.

It was in Mellifont that Dervorgilla (Derbforgaill) wife of Tiernan O'Rourke died in 1199 having spent the last years of her life in Mellifont. In 1152 Dervorgilla was abducted by Dermot MacMurrough (Diarmait Mac Murchada King of Leinster) In 1166 MacMurrough was expelled from Ireland by Rodrick (Rory O'Connor) high king of Ireland. MacMurrough went to England where he sought help from King Henry II. Henry gave him permission to enlist several Anglo Norman Lords, the chief of which was Richard Fitz Gilbert de Clare (Stongbow) MacMurrough promised his daughter Aoife's hand in marriage to Strongbow

This action on the part of MacMurrough is regarded by many as the single act which led to the Anglo Norman conquest of Ireland, although it appears, and this is not accepted by all, that the church of Rome and the English monarchy held negotiations regarding a crusade to Ireland to reign in the Irish church who's doctrines and policies had diverged somewhat from those of Rome.
According to the Annals of the Four Masters an important synod was held in Mellifont in 1152. The synod was attended by bishops and kings along with the papal legate John Paparo.

The church was consecrated in 1157 and perhaps as a demonstration of church authority the King of Meath Donnchadh Ua Maeleachlainn was banished.

Various other kings gave donations; Muirchertach Ua Lochlain the provincial king of Ulster gave cattle, gold and a town land, Donnchad Ua Garbhall the king of Airgilla who had donated the land originally also gave gold. Derbforgaill gave gold, a chalice and altar cloths.

The monastery was dissolved in 1539, and granted to Sir William Brabazon eventually it went to Sir Edward Moore who built on the site the house which was used by William of Orange as his headquarters during the battle of the Boyne in 1690.

It was in this house that the Earl of Tyrone, Hugh O'Neill and Lord Mountjoy signed the Treaty of Mellifont, ending the nine year war.

New Mellifont Abbey is home to the Cistercian Order in County Louth and is located in Collon, a small village and townland in the south west corner of County Louth.

Mellifont Abbey
Co Louth
Tel +353 (0) 41 9826 6459
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Old Mellifont Abbey.

In the visitors centre is a display on the stonemasons craft in the Middle Ages, with many examples of their work.
Open May to October.
Admission Free.


More images of Old Mellifont Abbey.