Saints and Stones: Mellifont (An Mhainistir Mhor)

Mellifont Abbey (Irish: An Mhainistir Mhór, literally "the big abbey") was the first Cistercian abbey to be built in Ireland. The Abbey was founded in 1142 on the orders of Saint Malachy, the Archbishop of Armagh.

En route for Rome, St. Malachy visited St. Bernard at Clairvaux. Impressed, he resolved to establish a similar monastery in his own diocese of Armagh. Leaving several of his companions at Clairvaux to make their novitiate under the direction of St. Bernard, they returned to Ireland to found Mellifont under Christian O'Conarchy, who became the first abbot. A French monk and architect, Father Robert, directed the construction of the monastic buildings according to the plans of the Abbey of Clairvaux.

Mellifont Abbey monks were responsible for the founding of a number of other monasteries in Ireland until its closure in 1539. With the return of monks to New Mellifont, not far away from the original abbey, monastic life was once again established in the area in 1938.

About Mellifont

Heritage Ireland: Old Mellifont Abbey
Irish Antiquities: Mellifont Cistercian Abbey
New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia: Abbey of Mellifont
Wikipedia: Saint Malachy
New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia: Cistercians

Journey to Mellifont

Mellifont Abbey is located on the County Louth banks of the River Mattock 6 miles (10 km) north-west of Drogheda off the N2 and the R168 (Drogheda-Collon Road) in Ireland.

Map Reference: O013780

Visitors Information

Visitors information may be found at the website. General tourist information for the area may be found on the Drogheda/Boyne Valley website.

Additional Photos of Mellifont

Sign at Mellifont Abbey
Mellifont Abbey Ruins with Lavabo in Background
Lavabo with Cloister Arches in Foreground at Mellifont Abbey
Cloister Arches at Mellifont Abbey
Cloister Arches at Mellifont Abbey
The Lavabo at Mellifont Abbey
Decorative Column at Mellifont Abbey
The Medieval Gatehouse at Mellifont Abbey

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