Ballynaglogh Abbey Church




N 54° 04' 19.02"   W 008° 33' 16.26"

Nearest town


Grid Ref.

G 63707 13790

Map No.


Elevation a.s.l. (m)


Date of visit

Wednesday 14 June 2017

GPS Accuracy (m)

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The ruins seen from the south.

Ballynaglogh Abbey was built on the site of a previous monastic settlement founded in the 6th century by St. Aedan O'Fiachrach. There are no official records about the construction of the new church or the religious order who was living on the site. However, because the abbey was constructed away from towns and villages, it might suggest that this was an ideal place for a Cistercian community. It was probably built in the 15th century.

The building, which measures 21.90 metres of length and 7.80 metres of width, is aligned to the east (95°) and is in a poor state of conservation.
The only intact part is the east gable with a two-light Gothic window. The tracery, though, has crumbled down and only the outer moulding survives. The east wall is however slightly leaning outwards. The west part of the building was occupied by a tower with the function of dwelling for the priests. This tower has collapsed and most of the rubble can still be seen making a mound at the west end. In the south wall there are three gaps. The one close to the east gable was probably a large window now collapsed, the middle one was likely a doorway that would allow access to the church. The third opening was the doorway to get access to the west tower. Another window might have been in the north wall as suggested by another breach in the wall.
The quoins of the church are interesting. They had been perfectly cut into rectangular blocks and set in an alternating fashion.
The interior of the building is overgrown, especially towards the west end where a tree has grown next to the remains of the west wall. The ivy has taken over the south wall.

A graveyard once was 20 metres to the southwest of the church. The landlord at that time, Captain John West, rejected new burials in the graveyard in 1840's and forced people to have their burials at the Cloonameehan abbey, about 2.8 km to the southwest. To persuade the local people to stay away from this graveyard, Captain West used to shoot at the coffins approaching the land. The graveyard at Ballynaglogh fell in disuse in mid-19th century and it was eventually cleared away.

To the west of the church, next to an abandoned house, is an interesting building, a dovecot. So far we had always seen circular and low buildings as dovecots, this one is a rectangular 2-storey tall building with a gabled roof, and it is said to be the only surviving dovecot in county Sligo. The doorway to the ground floor is in the southeast wall and is partially obstructed by a tree. The chamber on the ground floor has a barrel-vaulted ceiling and has no windows. I wonder what the purpose of this room was and how the priests would get to the pidgeons.

Owenmore River flows about 170 metres to the northeast from the church.

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