St. Mary's Abbey Church




N 53° 39' 18.5"   W 006° 25' 06.8"

Nearest town


Grid Ref.

O 04610 68410

Map No.


Elevation a.s.l. (m)


Date of visit

Wednesday 3 May 2006

GPS Accuracy (m)

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The ruins of the St. Mary's church seen from the west. The breach on the north side of tower reveals the presence of a round tower now gone.

Duleek is situated in the valley of the River Nanny.
St. Cianan, a disciple of St. Patrick, founded a church here in the 5th century but nothing of it remains in our days.
The name Duleek derives from the Irish term "damhliag", which means "stone church". This name appears for the first time in 724 and it's the first reference in Ireland to a church made of stone rather than wood.
The town was often raided by the Norsemen in the following centuries, but the people managed to survive.
In 1182 lord Hugh de Lacy donated a land to the Augustians who founded an abbey here and dedicated it to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Three centuries later a massive square tower was built nearby the round tower, but this one no longer exists.
In the churchyard there are two high crosses, called the North Cross and the South Cross, that could date back from the 10th century and they somehow resemble the high cross at Monasterboice. The first of them two is along the northwest wall of the more modern church.
In the ruinous church there are some cross slabs and the head of the South Cross. There's also a tomb with the effigy of Dr. Cusack, bishop of Meath between 1679 and 1688.
The church is aligned to northeast (70°).
On the same grounds there's the St. Kienan's church which was built in 1816 but is disused now.

UPDATE: June 9th, 2011 - We returned to this site to take new photos. The photos number 8 and number 9 are new.

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