ABBEYSHRULE Location: Abbeyshrule parish County:
Longford Foundation: 1200 Mother house:
Mellifont Relocation: None Founder: O’Ferrall
family Dissolution: 1592 Prominent members: Access: Accessible to the public
Abbeyshrule was founded in 1200 by the O’Ferralls, the Irish
chieftains of the district. The abbey was situated on the side
the river Inny, four and a half miles east north-east of Ballymahon,
on the borders of Longford and Westmeath. The official Latin name
was derived from the location of the abbey: ‘Flumen Dei’,
the river of the god. By the later Middles Ages the abbey was
under the control of the Ferrall family. When Abbot Gilbert died
in 1430 Kenan O’Ferrall unlawfully took possession of the
abbey and was to be removed. However, Kenan was still abbot in
when he was accused of misrule by a monk of St. Anastasius.
are no surviving sources concerning the revenue of the abbey,
it is reasonable to assume that Abbeyshrule was never prosperous.
In 1476 it was recorded that the abbey had been burnt by English
forces, although we do not know the extent of the damage. In 1540-1
it was reported that ‘long before the dissolution’ the
goods and of the monastery had been carried off and consumed
the O’Ferralls. It is thought that, even if monastic life
had survived until 1540, it is unlikely that it continued beyond
this date. In 1569 the site and possessions were granted to Robert
Dillon and the abbey was officially suppressed by Queen Elizabeth
The abbey church survives relatively intact but all the
other monastic buildings have vanished from sight. The church,
of which date back to the thirteenth century, is now covered in
vegetation. At a very late date, possibly in the seventeenth or
early eighteenth century, a chapel was built within the presbytery.
A solid stone screen with three vaulted compartments was inserted
and this remains the chief architectural feature of the ruins.
The discovery of bones and skulls outside the east wall of the
has led to mythical tales of the monks being slaughtered en
The only other ruins are of a post-Reformation tower house which
stands approximately 100 feet to the south of the church.