Old Mellifont Abbey

In 1142, Mellifont Abbey was founded by St Malachy, the Archbishop of Armagh, and became Ireland’s first Cistercian abbey.  In its hay day, it ruled over 38 other monasteries in Ireland as Mother house of the Order, but was eventually disbanded by King Henry VIII in 1539.

Image Credit:  Megalithic Ireland

Mellifont gets its name from the Latin Font Mellis, meaning “fountain of honey,” and its monks were known for keeping bees, as well as other tasks.  Also of note, the abbey was the first in Ireland to follow European cloistral plan, with buildings built around a central open space.

Image Credit:  Megalithic Ireland

Today the site sits in ruins, with its lavabo (where the abbey’s monks would wash) being the most impressive feature.  The chapter house is also still standing, along with part of the medieval gate house.

The lavabo.  Image Credit:  Wikipedia

Many visitors have said the site is small and can be underwhelming, but with its close proximity to Monasterboice, I feel it would still be worth a look.

Admission to the site is 3 euro per adult, 2 euro for seniors and 1 euro for children.  It is a heritage site, meaning heritage card owners are given free entrance.  Guided tours are available, and there are picnic areas for those who bring something to eat.

Additional links & Resources:

Discover Ireland

The Gold Book:  Ireland, pages 60-61

Heritage Ireland: Old Mellifont Abbey

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