Raymochy Abbey, Donegal

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Raymochy Abbey is located about 0.5km south of Manorcunningham village. Documentary sources indicate that St. Patrick brought Christianity to the area and founded the abbey in the late 5th century. Brugach was consecrated the first bishop of the Abbey and a line of his successors continued at Raymochy until at least 731AD.

Under the early Celtic Christian Monastic system Raymochy was the ecclesiastical headquarters of the region until the episcopal seat moved to Raphoe.   From the 8th to the early 12th century the Columban Federation of Monasteries, ruled by the Arch-abbot of Iona controlled Raymochy.   Subsequently the Irish Church moved to a diocesan, parish-based system, and Raymochy was included in this change.

As with other medieval religious sites Raymochy was under the patronage and protection of the local clan chieftains, initially the O’Cannons and from the 14th century the O’Donnell clan.    Possibly due to this protection Raymochy escaped the initial suppression of monasteries by Henry VIII from 1536 onwards and was not suppressed until after the Treaty of Mellifont 1603.   Following the Ulster Plantation, the building was used as a protestant house of worship until 1792.

The present building was erected about 1500AD and was modified for Protestant worship around 1622. The most impressive feature remaining is the Planter’s Gothic E window in the east facing gable, and the opening for the entrance can be seen at the western end of the northern wall.

The surrounding graveyard was used by both Catholic and Protestant communities since 1829 and is still used occasionally. Relatives of the deceased regularly visit their family graves, as do descendants of the diaspora.