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Cistercian Abbeys: FERMOY

Name: FERMOY Location: Fermoy town County: Cork
Foundation: 1170 Mother house: Inishlounaght
Relocation: None Founder: Donal Mor O’Brien
Dissolution: 1539-41 Prominent members:
Access: No remains

Fermoy was founded in 1170 by Donal Mor O’Brien, king of Limerick, and was colonized with monks from Inishlounaght. Fermoy abbey was situated in the valley of the Blackwater River. Its Latin name was a reference to the location combined with a dedicatory formula: ‘Castrum Dei’, the camp of God. The abbey was opposed to English influence in the neighbourhood and was one of the principle instigators in the ‘conspiracy of Mellifont’ (1216-1228). As a result the affiliation of the abbey was changed from Inishlounaght to Furness. In 1227, the Irish abbot was deposed and an abbot of Anglo-Norman origin was imposed upon the abbey in his place. He was murdered three years later, reputedly by his own monks. During the fourteenth century the abbey fell heavily into debt and in 1467 the abbot appealed to the pope, claiming that that his monks could not be maintained properly and that the abbey buildings were threatened with ruin on account of war and other misfortunes. At the time of the Dissolution the annual income of the abbey was valued at just £2, with a peace time potential of £24. In 1541 the royal commissioners found that the abbey church had been in use as a parish church for some time and that all the other monastic buildings were being used by the local farmer. Following the Dissolution the abbey and its lands passed through various dynasties, including those of Viscount Rote of Fermoy, Sir Richard Grenville and Robert Boyle. The last traces of the abbey perished after the foundation of the town by the Scottish merchant John Anderson in 1791. The monastery was positioned on the south side of the Blackwater River and is marked by a road named ‘Abbey Street’.