ABBEYLEIX Location: Abbeyleix town County:
Laois Foundation: 1183/4 Mother House:
Baltinglass Relocation: None Founder: Connor
O’More Dissolution: 1552 Prominent members: Access: Accessible to the public
Abbeyleix was founded by Connor O’More in 1183 although the
first monks did not arrive from Baltinglass until a year later.
The site was on the banks of the River Nore, over thirty miles upstream
from Jerpoint. The name of the abbey derives from the Latin name
of the monastery ‘Lex Dei’. The fifteenth and sixteenth-century
revenue was exceedingly low: the annual income was approximately
£3, although its potential value in 1551 was estimated at
£31. The abbey was surrendered to the king in 1552 and in
1563 the lands were granted to Thomas, Earl of Ormond. Following
the Dissolution the abbey remained in use, often with former monks
as parish priests. The nave was used for over 200 years until the
crumbling fabric was replaced by a Protestant church. The abbey
was left to fall into ruin, eventually leaving no trace of the buildings.
During the eighteenth century the old village of Abbeyleix was replaced
by the planned village of the Viscount de Vesci. During construction
many stones of the old abbey were found. The only relics to have
survived are the effigial tomb of Malachy O’More (1502) and
a grave slab in memory of William O’Kelly (1531). The site
of the abbey now lies within the demesne of Viscount de Vesci, probably
within the vicinity of the nineteenth-century Protestant church.
The relics are now preserved in a walled garden within the demesne.