Baltinglass Abbey

12th Century Cistercian Abbey

All that remains of the Cistercian Abbey founded at Baltinglass in 1148 is the 56 metre long church. The founder Dermot McMurrough, King of Leinster, brought monks from the Abbey at Mellifont. He died in 1171 the year after the abbey's completion. McMurrough was also responsible for building the Romanesque church at Killeshin. The church, which contains a large variety of rich carvings including animal and human figures, is considered one of the finest of examples of Romanesque architecture in Ireland. The nave has a rather imposing arcade with alternating cylindrical and square pillars. The oldest part of the church is the east end. It has a Presbytery, with a three light window, and two transepts that were later additions. At the western end is a 15th century arched doorway. Adjoining the abbey on the southside is a pyramid-style mausoleum, built in 1832 for the Stratford family.

Decorated plinth


Grace memorial

The bell tower

Following the suppression of the Abbey in 1536, the grounds were still used as a graveyard right up to modern times. The early 17th century Grace memorial, which may originally have been the top of a chest tomb, is a superb example of this type of monument. The Latin inscription around the edge of the stone, translated to English reads, “Here lies that noble and illustrious man, James Grace, formerly of Killerige, an inhabitant of Rathvilly, who, when living in the world, was both courageous in war and distinguished in hospitality; but now, being taken from among the living, he craves, of your charity, the support of your prayers. He died truly full of days, in the year of Our Lord’s Incarnation 1605 on the 23rd day of February, in the 68th year of his age. May he rest in peace.”

The Abbey is picturesquely situated about 100 metres from the eastern bank of the river Slaney.

Situated: If you enter Baltinglass from the N81 head east onto the Main Street. Take the first left (Church Lane) and drive to the end.

Discovery Map 61 8670 8888. Last visit May 2013.

Longitude: 6° 42' 36" W

Latitude: 52° 56' 38" N

Google Map

Photos: Jim Dempsey.

Previous-----Home-----Next Page