go to home page go to byland abbey pages go to fountains abbey pages go to kirkstall abbey pages go to rievaulx abbey pages go to roche abbey pages
The Cistercians in Yorkshire title graphic

Text only version

About the Project






Contact Us

Cistercian Abbeys: ABINGTON

Name: ABINGTON Location: nr Limerick County: Limerick
Foundation: c. 1196 Mother house: Furness/Savigny
Relocation: - 1204, 1205 Founder: Theobold Walter
Dissolution: + 1557 Prominent members:
Access: No remains

The original foundation of this abbey was at Wyrsedale in Lancashire, endowed c. 1196 by Theobold Walter, Butler of Ireland and brother of Hubert Walter, archbishop of Canterbury. At some point before 1204 the community was moved to a new site on the east coast of the island of Arklow. However, this site was rather exposed and the monks were transferred to a more suitable location at Abington in 1205. The abbey at Abington was situated on the banks of the River Mulkear, a tributary of the Shannon. According to the charter, the abbey was founded from Savigny, the mother house of Furness. It has been suggested therefore that the colony from Wyresdale was augmented from Savigny when it moved from Arklow to Abington, or that Abington was founded directly from Savigny, the colony from Arklow being transferred to the new abbey. Throughout its history Abington has also been known as Mainister Uaithne, Woney or Owney. Theobold Walter was buried in the abbey at Abington in 1206, although it is unlikely that any of the permanent buildings had been completed by that time. Thirteen of the abbots of Abington sat in parliament at various times throughout the middle ages. By the fifteenth century the abbey had succumbed to the ‘inordinate power of laymen’ and was feeling the impact of an immoral leadership. The Mulryan family exerted much pressure on the house, especially Cornelius O’Mulryan who considered himself ‘abbot de facto of the monastery’. In 1436 the community at Abington appealed to James Butler, earl of Ormond, complaining that the Mulryan family deprived the monks of their rents and sustenance and daily despoiled their property. In 1452 Richard Seymour, abbot of Abington, admitted that he had been negligent in carrying out the liturgy and administering the sacrament, confessed to alienating the church property and also to simony and fornication. He was required to do penance and, despite his conduct, he was later confirmed in his office by the Pope.

At the time of the Dissolution the income of the abbey was valued at £44 and in 1540 the abbot, John O’Mulryan, paid a fine of £40 in order to prevent the destruction of the monastery. In the same year the abbey was converted into a secular college and Abbot John took the title of provost (or warden). The college did not survive for long and by 1553 the abbey had been granted to Walter Aphoell. There was still a community at the abbey in 1557 and in 1562 the lease passed to Peter Walsh. The abbey functioned once more in the early seventeenth century and an abbot is recorded as late as 1684. Abington abbey was destroyed in the eighteenth century but it is known through an illustration drawn by Thomas Dinely in 1681. Shortly after Dinely drew his sketch the abbey was apparently swept away to make room for the construction of a manor house. However, like the monastery the manor house no longer exists. The monastic buildings are thought to have been located near the existing graveyard at Abington, although the exact position is unclear. There are two ruined structures outside the graveyard wall although there is no proof that these made up any of the monastic houses. The loss of Abington abbey has been lamented for it was one of the major Anglo-Norman houses of England.