Midleton, also called St. Mary of Chore, was founded some time
between 1179 and 1180 and was colonized with monks from Monasteranenagh.
The abbey was situated beside the river Owenacurra, just before
it enters the waters of Cork harbour. It is thought that the Latin
title of the abbey, ‘Chorus Sancti Benedicti’, was perhaps
a play on the Irish word ‘cora’ or weir, taken from
the name of the local river. It has been suggested that the founder
was a member of the Fitzgerald family but Father Colmcille believes
that the founder was almost certainly Irish, especially considering
the native character of its mother house.
The abbey was heavily
involved in the ‘conspiracy of Mellifont’ (1216-1228).
In 1227 it became a centre of violent rebellion against the Cistercian
General Chapter and the abbot was deposed by the abbot of Tintern.
When he refused to submit the whole community was placed under interdict.
Things soon calmed down and those monks who showed repentance were
absolved. In 1278 the abbot of Midleton was deposed for not attending
the Cistercian General Chapter for seven years.
Midleton was extremely
poor; at the time of Dissolution when the annual income of the
abbey was valued at just £3, with a potential peace time
£23. The abbot, Philip FitzDavid Barry, managed to save Midleton
from closure by obtaining a lease for twenty-one years. Some form
of religious life may thus have survived for a time. In 1573 the
property was granted to John FitzEdmond FitzGerald. The Brodericks,
later earls of Midelton, founded the modern town in the area c.
1670. In 1825 a Protestant church was constructed on the site of
the old monastery by which time most traces of the abbey had vanished.
Today there are no standing remains although a number of moulded
stones are scattered around the graveyard, including a late medieval
door head and a piece of circular shafting.