Boyle Abbey

This Cistercian monastery was founded in the twelfth century by monks from Mellifont Abbey under the patronage of the local ruling family, the MacDermotts. It was one of the most powerful of the early Cistercian foundations in Ireland and among the foremost in Connacht.

Find out about the onslaughts of its history – from invasions by Richard de Burgo and Maurice FitzGerald in the thirteenth century to occupation by Cromwell’s forces in 1659 – and how the abbey managed to withstand them.

Cromwellian forces wreaked devastation when they occupied the abbey in 1659. It was further mutilated during the following centuries, when it was used to accommodate a military garrison. Despite all the violence it has suffered over the centuries, Boyle Abbey is well preserved and retains its ability to impress.

A sixteenth/seventeenth-century gatehouse has been restored and turned into an interpretive centre, where you can learn more about the abbey’s gripping history.

See if you can find the enigmatic Sheela-na-gig. There are two possible examples at Boyle Abbey – one in the left-hand corner as you enter into the building, the other, defaced, further along the nave. Can you decipher the purpose of these mysterious carvings? Do they represent older, more primitive deities? Are they fertility talismans? Guardians against evil?

Just a stone’s throw from the church you can admire Abbeytown Bridge, one of the oldest surviving stone bridges in Ireland.


Guided/ Self Guided Tour :
Adult: €5.00
Group/Senior €4.00
Student/Child €3.00
Family €13.00

Source and image credit: Heritage Ireland OPW