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Cistercian Abbeys: KILBEGGAN

Name: KILBEGGAN Location: Kilbeggan town County: Westmeath
Foundation: 1150 Mother house: Mellifont
Relocation: None Founder: MacCoghlan family
Dissolution: 1539 Prominent members:
Access: No remains

Kilbeggan was founded in 1150 and colonized with monks from Mellifont. It is thought that the founder was a member of the MacCoghlan family, the chief family in the district. The site had previously been occupied by an early Irish monastery, founded by St. Beccan in the fifth or sixth century. The Latin name of the abbey follows a straightforward religious formula, Benedicto Dei, 'the blessing of God'. O’Catharnaigh, the great priest of Clonmacnois, died at the abbey in 1196 and Melaghlin MacCoghlan, prince of Devlin, died in pilgrimage to the abbey in 1213. In 1217, the abbey was involved in the ‘riot of Jerpoint’ and the abbot was duly punished for his involvement. Following the ‘conspiracy of Mellifont’ (1216-1228) the Irish Cistercian houses were reorganized and Kilbeggan was made subject to Buildwas. Hugh O’Malone, bishop of Clonmacnois, was buried in the abbey in 1236.

At the time of Dissolution the annual income of the abbey was valued at £13, making it one of the poorest Cistercian abbeys in Ireland. The abbey was dissolved in 1539 and the property was later granted to the Lambert family. In the eighteenth century, the ruins were replaced by a Protestant church. Today there are no visible remains of the abbey and the site is now occupied by the ruins of the Protestant church.