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Mourne Abbey Church
 

County

Cork

Coordinates

N 52° 04' 51.9"   W 008° 37' 34.62"

Nearest town

Mallow

Grid Ref.

W 57074 92314

Map No.

80

Elevation a.s.l. (m)

99

Date of visit

Tuesday 1 June 2010

GPS Accuracy (m)

2
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From roughly the northeast.


Mourne Abbey was built in 1199 by the Knights Templar. The monastic site consisted of a church, a mill, a refectory and storage buildings. All of them were surrounded by a wall with guard towers. When the order was suppressed in 1307, the Knights Templar at the abbey were arrested and sent to Dublin, and the abbey was granted to the Knights Hospitaller.
The building was abandoned in 1541 when king Henry VIII ordered the dissolution of all the monasteries.
During its activity the abbey was protected by Barrett's Castle, which still stands on a low hill at 1.1 km to the northwest. The castle was built by Brother John FitzRichard in 1235. Later it became property of the Desmond FitzGeralds until it was destroyed by the Cromwell's army in 1645.
Today only scant ruins of the church and the castle survive and the place has an overall untidy look. It's rather difficult to wander among the ruins because of the high grass.
The church had an impressive length of about 48 metres and was about 8 metres wide. The chancel is aligned to east (85°).


UPDATE: June 20th, 2017 - Second visit to the Mourne Abbey. Last time we were here I didn't realized how large it was. In the high grass I underestimated its beauty. Despite the time that has passed since my past visit, some parts of the building are still fenced off.
The building was quite long and had many large windows in its walls. It had a chancel to the east (85°) about 20 metres long and 6 metres wide, and a nave which was about 28 metres long and 8 metres wide. A wall would divide the two sections. There are faint traces of a south transept, while the north one has completely disappeared, probably also because the modern road runs very close to the ruins on the north side, but the arched doorways to both transepts are still visible.
The building is within a rectangular stone enclosure still visible, though much overgrown.
Recent excavations at the abbey have revealed the find of a rare, if not unique, feature in an Irish church, an apsidal end in the south transept. Usually these elements can be found in the chancel near the main altar. Also, fragments of glazed floor tiles decorated with floreal and animal motifs were found.

About 100 metres southwest from these ruins there are the ruins of another building that was likely connected to this abbey, but almost nothing remains of it.

Because of the grown vegetation and trees, Barret castle is no longer visible from this abbey.

The first 4 photos in this page are from the first visit.


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