DUNMORE ABBEY

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Dunmore Abbey is a medieval Augustinian friary and national monument located in the town of Dunmore in North Galway. Dunmore Abbey has a rich and fascinating history that dates back to the 5th century, when it was allegedly founded by Saint Patrick himself.

According to tradition, Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, established a monastery in Dunmore in the 5th century, as part of his missionary work in the country. The site was later occupied by the Augustinian friars, who were invited by Walter de Bermingham, Baron Athenry, to build a friary there in 1425. Walter de Bermingham was a powerful Anglo-Norman lord who had inherited large estates in Connacht and Munster. He was also a patron of the arts and learning, and supported several religious foundations in Ireland.

The Augustinian friars were a mendicant order, meaning that they lived by begging for alms and preaching to the people. They followed the rule of Saint Augustine, a 4th century bishop and theologian who emphasized the importance of community life, charity and love. The Augustinians were active in Ireland since the 12th century, and had many houses throughout the country.

Dunmore Abbey is a fine example of late Gothic architecture, with some features influenced by the Renaissance style. The abbey consists of a church nave and a chancel, separated by a tower that also serves as a belfry. The church has a pointed arch window at the east end, and several lancet windows along the walls. The west doorway is particularly impressive, with elaborate carvings of floral motifs, human heads and animals. The doorway also has an inscription that reads: “Orate pro anima Walteri de Bermingham qui me fieri fecit” (Pray for the soul of Walter de Bermingham who had me made).

The abbey also had other buildings, such as a cloister, a refectory, a dormitory and a library, but these have not survived. The abbey was surrounded by a wall that enclosed a cemetery and a garden. Some traces of these structures can still be seen today.

Dunmore Abbey witnessed many turbulent events in Irish history, such as the Reformation, the Cromwellian invasion and the Penal Laws. The abbey was dissolved in 1569 by Queen Elizabeth I, who confiscated its lands and properties. However, some friars remained in occupancy, and continued their religious activities despite the persecution. In 1574, the land was granted to John Fitz-Thomas Burke, an Irish nobleman who supported the Catholic cause.

In 1641, during the Irish Rebellion against English rule, there was a prior and thirty friars still living in Dunmore Abbey. They left in 1645, when Oliver Cromwell’s army invaded Ireland and destroyed many monasteries and churches. The friars took refuge at Mayfield, another Augustinian house nearby.

In 1698, an inventory of Dunmore Abbey was made by William King, the Protestant bishop of Derry. He described the abbey as “a very fair building”, but noted that it was “much ruined”. He also listed the items that were found there, such as books, vestments, chalices and relics.

In the 18th century, part of the abbey was converted into a parish church for the Church of Ireland. The church was used until 1879, when it was replaced by a new building. The old church was then abandoned and fell into decay.

Today, Dunmore Abbey is preserved as a national monument by the Office of Public Works. The site is typically gated and not open to the public, except on certain occasions or events. Information boards can be found at the site providing further information about the Abbey.

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53.618167, -8.741428

Dunmore Abbey

GALLERY

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