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The Yellow Steeple (St. Mary's Abbey) Church
 

County

Meath

Coordinates

N 53° 33' 23.2"   W 006° 47' 19.0"

Nearest town

Trim

Grid Ref.

N 80332 56943

Map No.

42

Elevation a.s.l. (m)

66

Date of visit

Tuesday 24 May 2011

GPS Accuracy (m)

8
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The Yellow Steeple seen from the south. It's a distinctive landmark in the Trim skyline.


This famous landmark in the Trim skyline is the only remain of the St. Mary's Abbey, an Augustinian abbey built at the beginning of the 12th century. The church was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin. Its name comes from the yellow colour reflected by the stonework in the setting sun.
In the 13th century the abbey was associated with the De Lacy family. The church burned in 1368, but shortly after the fire, the abbey erected a statue of the Virgin Mary that became famous for working healing miracles. The fame of this statue reached every corner of the country and became the most celebrated pilgrimage shrine to Mary in Ireland. According to medieval Irish chronicles, the statue performed many healing miracles around the fifteenth century to the extent that somebody have referred to Trim as the "Lourdes of Ireland".
The English royal family granted protection to pilgrims going to the abbey, including Irish rebels.
But under Henry VIII and his religious reform the statue did not escape the flames of destruction, and eventually it was publicly burned in 1538 along with the Ballyboggan cross. Four years later the last abbot was expelled and the abbey fell in ruin.
According the the chronicles the Yellow Steeple was destroyed by Oliver Cromwell's troops.
The steeple is 40 metres tall. It was constructed of squared lime stones and served as the abbey's bell tower. The tower still retains the remnant of a spiral staircase. The east-southeast wall rises seven storeys and the south-southwest wall reaches five, but the other two sides of the tower are missing. The walls are generally plain with a few windows and other simple decorations. The remaining walls are both 11 metres wide.


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