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Baltinglass Abbey Church
 

County

Wicklow

Coordinates

N 52° 56' 37.8"   W 006° 42' 37.3"

Nearest town

Baltinglass

Grid Ref.

S 86751 88858

Map No.

61

Elevation a.s.l. (m)

122

Date of visit

Tuesday 11 June 2013

GPS Accuracy (m)

3
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All that remains today is the south arcade of the nave and the central belfry tower. The architecture of the belfry reveals the Protestant nature of the church.


Baltinglass Cistercian Abbey was founded in 1148 by Diarmait Mac Murchadha, king of Leinster, as a daughter house of Mellifont. One of the abbots of Baltinglass was Albin O'Mulloy who, in 1185, spoke out against the clergy coming from England and Wales, accusing them of being of bad example for the Irish clergy. In 1186 O’Mulloy was made bishop of Ferns. In 1228 it is said that there were 36 monks and 50 lay brothers living in the abbey. One of the following abbots built a towerhouse close to the abbey. During the years the abbey always retained a strong identity and had a great influence around. At the beginning of the 16th century it was one of the richest Cistercian abbey in Ireland, with an income of 76 pounds in wartimes and 126 pounds in peacetimes, but it was also one of the first monasteries to be dissolved under Henry VIII.
It was later adapted as a Protestant church and the tower house built by the abbot was turned into a dwelling for the FitzEustace family. The towerhouse was then knocked down in 1880's.
Not much of the original building survives today. All the domestic buildings for the monks have disappeared.
The eastern section of the church has a square-ended presbitery and two transepts. There are also well preserved sedilia. The capitals of the massive columns have rich and abstract designs. Adjoining the abbey is a great, pyramid style, granite mausoleum built in 1832 as a tomb for the Stratford family who were powerful estate owners in the area.

The abbey stands on the left bank of the River Slaney in the village of Baltinglass, which was in a sad condition when we drove through. The abbey itself is poorly signposted and getting to it is not easy.

This was our second visit to the abbey after the one on June 3rd, 2001.


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