Monasteranenagh Church




N 52° 31' 00.96"   W 008° 39' 46.56"

Nearest town


Grid Ref.

R 55005 40825

Map No.


Elevation a.s.l. (m)


Date of visit

Sunday 18 June 2017

GPS Accuracy (m)

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The guesthouse in ruins and the abbey behind the trees, as seen from the road to the west.

Monasteranenagh abbey was founded in 1148 by Turlough O'Connor, King of Munster, and was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin.
The name Monasteranenagh derives from the Irish Mainistir an Aoinagh which means "Monastery of the Fair" because a fair or market was regularly held here in old times.
It was founded as a Cistercian abbey and was a daughter house of Mellifont abbey. In turn, Monasteranenagh had four daughter monasteries, Abbeydorney, Holycross, Inislounaght and Midleton abbey, which have now disappeared.
In 1228, during the so called Conspiracy of Mellifont, the Irish monks in the monastery expelled the abbot and the non-Irish monks, but they were excommunicated for revolting against their superiors.
It is believed that in the 14th century the monastery would house up to 1,500 monks.
In 1540, under the rule of king Henry VIII, the monastery was dissolved, but the monks were allowed to remain at the abbey until 1579, when, at the beginning of the Second Desmond Rebellion, the Irish and Spaniards took shelter at the monastery. The English troops, led by Sir William Malby, temporary governor of Munster, attacked the abbey, killed the occupants and burnt the building causing major damages.
The monastery was eventually destroyed by Sir Henry Wallop after robbing the valuables that still were in the abbey.

The church is really huge, with very high walls. It has a long and wide nave completely divided from the chancel by a wall with a pointed arch small doorway and a trilobate window positioned very high in the wall.
The church is aligned to the east (85°).
In the west wall there is a small doorway, now partially walled up, and above it there are two round headed windows with a double moulding of red sandstone.
There were two side aisles with arcades, but only the arcades survive.
The two transepts have also been destroyed along with the cloister. The chancel had a three lancet east windows, but only traces of them survive today. There are also traces of a chancel arch, and the columns of this arch and other two columns into the side walls have beautifully carved capitals.

South of the church building there are the remains of the Chapter house. The only good part is the east wall with two Gothic windows and a small two-light ogee window between them.

It seems that the whole monastery had an enclosed court. There are segments of high walls south of the nave.

At about 130 metres northwest from the church is a rectangular and long building that was probably the abbey's guesthouse. Stillborn children were once buried within the ruins of this building.

We came here for the first time on June 11th, 2001.

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