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Cistercians Abbeys: HORE

Name: HORE Location: nr Cashel County: Tipperary
Foundation: 1272 Mother house: Mellifont
Relocation: None Founder: David McCarville
Dissolution: 1540 Prominent members:
Access: Accessible to the public

Hore Abbey was founded in 1272 by David McCarville, archbishop of Cashel, on a site previously occupied by a Benedictine community. It was the last Cistercian foundation in Ireland. McCarville, who had taken the Cistercian habit in 1269, annexed the Benedictine community to his new abbey so that the Cistercians should benefit from the revenues. Tradition says that McCarville expelled these monks after he had dreamt of their plan to murder him. The story is unlikely to be true and probably arose from the atmosphere of distrust that existed between the archbishop and some of the local townspeople. Some inhabitants of Cashel disliked the archbishop’s ‘interference’ with the commerce of the city and several of the more anglicised inhabitants believed he was too much in favour of the Irish. In 1279 Margaret le Blunde, who detested the bishop, complained that Hore Abbey was filled with rogues who killed English people and plundered the area. The construction of the stone church was begun almost immediately after the first monks arrived, and the church was completed within two or three decades. The Latin name of the abbey is Rupes, the rock, on account of the abbey's proximity to the ‘Rock of Cashel’. Hore Abbey was never prosperous and had a community of only five by the sixteenth century. At the time of the Dissolution the annual income of the abbey was valued at just £21.

The abbey was dissolved in 1540, and in 1541 the royal commissioners found that the abbey church had been used as the parish church for some time prior to the Dissolution. In 1545 the property was being rented to a ‘clerk’ called Edward Heffernan. The monastery was converted into a private housing complex; one residence centered around the chapter-house, while additional houses were carved out of the south transept and the western part of the nave. The chancel and crossing continued to function as a local parish church and three monks were retained as curates. In 1561 Queen Elizabeth granted the lands to Sir Henry Radcliffe and they were afterwards transferred to James Butler, earl of Ormond. In 1575 the property was granted to Thomas Sinclair and is now, with the greater part of the parish, the property of the earl of Mount-Cashel. Today the church and sections of the east range survive. There are few interesting architectural features, with only an occasional still leaf capital to enliven the otherwise bleak design. The nave is exceptionally plain and the overall design is a perfect example of the conservative approach of the Cistercians. Hore was the only Cistercian monastery in Ireland where the cloister was positioned to the north of the abbey, and some fragments of the cloister arcade remain. It is thought that the site of the Rock of Cashel, close to the north of the abbey, may explain this departure from the usual arrangement. The ruins are now surrounded by fields of sheep and cattle and can be accessed by the public.