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Dunbrody Abbey  

Fáilte chuig Mainistir Dhún Bróith. Welcome to Dunbrody Abbey & Visitor Centre.

Built in 1182 by the Norman Knight Hervey de Monte Marisco who was Strongbow’s uncle. It's 820 years old. It’s been called the “Noblest pile of all”as
 it has the best ruins of any abbey of that period. Dunbrody is a Cistercian Abbey. Monks wore white robes and they prayed, worked and helped the poor and gave the people protection. 
It was common for the Normans to build a monastery or an abbey in the new area they had taken over. The first Cistercian Abbey  built in Ireland was in Mellifont Co.Louth by St.Malachy. Hervey felt it would be good for his soul in the next world because of the Norman slaughter especially at Baginbun. Hervey had his base at Great Island which was once known as Hervey's Island.
He first gave the Dunbrody land to the Cistercians of Buildwas in Shropshire in England. A monk called Alan was sent over to Dunbrody to check out the new site.He found the place to be wild and desolate and found the natives to be ferocious. His home was in a hollow oak tree and he quickly returned home to Buildwas with his sad tale.

View showing River Pill and remains of West Window

This is a painting of Dunbrody Abbey by Gabriel Beranger from around 1780. You can see the Great West Window which fell in 1852. The title is Dunbrawdy Abbey which is the correct pronounciation.

What abbey looked like originally

The monks of Buildwas then gave the lands to St. Mary's of Dublin and began the building of Dunbrody in 1182. They were delighted with their new lands. The site 
was ideal as it was near where the local River Pill flows into the Barrow and was surrounded by forests. The monks had good fishing and hunting grounds. So they 
had plenty salmon and venison and they also collected tolls or taxes from people 
using the river. The Abbey was now known as the Port of St.Mary's as it offered 
safety to people in trouble or on the run from their enemies. It was dedicated to 
the Blessed Virgin.
Hervey, even though married, became a monk in the Abbey.He died there at the 
age of 75 in 1205. His tomb and his statue, which were near the high altar, were destroyed by soldiers from Duncannon Fort in 1798. 
In 1195 Pope Celestine placed the Abbey under the protection of St.Peter and St.
The townlands granted to Dunbrody were Curraghmore,Drillistown,Dunbrody,Coole,
Ballyhack, Ballygow,Balystraw,Ballyvelig,Balliniry,Coleman,Clonsharragh,Haggard, Boderan,Clonlard,Kilhile,Mersheen,Monachee,Nook,Ramsgrange,Duncannon,Balliniry,
Rosetown,Saltmills,Shielbaggan,Grange and Tinnock. They also got over 200 acres 
in Great Island and some reclaimed land in Kilmannock.
There is a story of where the Abbot of Dunbrody and two of his monks put a monk 
from nearby Tintern Abbey in prison for three days and robbed him of two horses 
and money. There was trouble between the two abbeys over what land each owned.

Boreen an Bháis with the Abbey in the background

This is a picture of the lane which goes from Ballyvelig to Dunbrody Castle. The story goes that a party of monks were strolling along one evening saying their vespers or evening prayers when they were attacked by some of the native Irish. It is said that they were slaughtered and the lane became known as Bóithrín a Bás or the Lane of Slaughter. Some call it the Bloody Lane.It could also because of a fierce battle fought here between the Etchinghams and Chichesters over the abbey lands as the Chichesters became owners through Jane Etchingham's marriage to Arthur Chichester in 1660.

St.Mogue's Church of Ireland in Fethard and Baptismal Font from Dunbrody Abbey

The next important Abbot was Alexander Devereux. He knew that the protestant 
King Henry 8th was going to suppress or destroy Dunbrody Abbey. He gave the lands to his brother. He then changed his religion and became the first protestant Bishop
 of Ferns and went to live in Fethard-on-Sea closeby. Alexander brought with him the baptismal font from the Abbey and this font is still in use today in St.Mogue's Church. St.Mogue is another name for St.Aidan the patron saint of Wexford. He was the first catholic Bishop of Ferns. Alexander is buried in St.Mogues Church. On the 6th may 1536  Henry 8th ordered Dunbrody Abbey to be suppressed or banned.The abbey was plundered and made unfit for any monks to come back and live there. All valuables went to the king. The lead from the roof was melted down and could be used to make ammunition. The wood from the roof was used for fire in the smelting. Dunbrody Abbey was now bare and its religious life at an end. Alexander later changed back to his Catholic religion before he died.

The abbey was suppressed and the monks banned by the protestant Henry VIII.

The bronze Dunbrody Abbey seal was found in Kilhile Castle in 1852.It is about 4cm wide. The abbot is sitting on a throne with a canopy or covering over him. He has a crozier in his right hand and his head is bare. Around the seal is written in Latin 'Contrasigilluim Domus Sccs Marie de Portu' which means the seal of Saint Mary of Refuge. Patrick Belfast,the Marquis of Donegal has the seal.

Drop in on our lovely Dunbrody Abbey sometime.

Visit the maze,castle and craft shop.
And the doll’s house.

Please remember Dunbrody Abbey is a National Monument. Guided tours are available and the abbey should be treated with respect. Seán Crowley. 

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