Chancel

Inch Abbey

Cistercian Abbey

The first monastery established on the northern banks of the river Quoile in 800 AD was known as Inis Cumhscraigh. Nothing remains of the early monastery, but traces of the Early Christian earthworks enclosure can be seen on aerial photographs. The setting is really beautiful and you can see why the Anglo-Norman knight John de Courcy established the Cistercian abbey here in c.1180. It is believed the Abbey was founded as an act of repentance for his destruction of the Abbey at Erinagh three years earlier. De Courcy also founded Grey Abbey in Down as well as erecting castles at Carrickfergus and Dundrum.

The abbey was colonised with monks from Furness Abbey in England. It was built to a typical Cistercian layout, a large cruciform church with a low tower at the crossing of the north and south transept. The cloister garth is situated to the south of the church. Along the east of the cloister are the ruins of a vestry, chapter house, parlour and day room. To the south is the refectory and kitchen. There was a well and a bakehouse situated to the southwest of the cloister. The abbey, which retained a strong english influence refusing to accept irish monks into the community, was remodelled in the 15th century. The abbey was suppressed in 1541.

Plinth

Piscina

North Transept

Triple Sedilia

Fragments in the South Transept

Cloister foundations

Situated: From Downpatrick head northwest on the A7 for about 1 kilometre then turn left on to Inch Abbey Road. After 400 metres turn left again.

Discovery Map 21: J 4753 4543. Last visit July 2013.

Longitude: 5° 43' 53" W

Latitude: 54° 20' 10" N

Google Map

Photos: Jim Dempsey

The Well

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