Inch Abbey

Map Reference: J477455 (3477, 3455)

The Cistercian Abbey of Inch or Inniscourcy was founded by John de Courcy and colonized by monks from Furness in 1187. The site was occupied by the earlier monastery of Inis Cumhscraigh, which was plundered by Vikings in 1002. It is known that this early monastery was surrounded by a large earthwork which was in existence before 800. The presence of this earthwork has been revealed in recent years by aerial photography. The abbey sits on a former island in the Quoile marshes and is approached by a causeway from the north.

The ruins show the typical Cistercian layout. A large cruciform church stands to the north of the cloister garth. Along the east of the cloister is a range of buildings including the vestry, chapter house and parlour. Above these may have been the dormitories. To the south was the kitchen and refectory.

There do not appear to have been any buildings along the west of the cloister although such buildings are found in some other Cistercian abbeys. The church had two chapels in each of the transepts and a north and south aisle. The walls have been reduced to low level except at the east end. Enough remains to show that the chapels were vaulted and that there was a tower over the choir. There are three large lancet windows in the E wall of the chancel and two such windows in the N and S walls. There are traces of a triple sedilia and a piscina in the S wall of the chancel. None of the carved stone from this area has remained in situ except for the quatrefoil basin of the piscina.

There is evidence that there was a fire during the 15th century which may have caused the destruction or demolition of the tower. The transept arches and the first bay of the nave were then enclosed and the west doorway moved to its present position. Only the lower courses of the doorway remain. Presumably the rest of the nave was then abandoned. The cloister was rebuilt in the 15th century and appears to have had ogee arches and dumb-bell piers.

To the SW of the main cluster of building are the remains of a bakehouse which had two ovens. Beside this is a well. To the SE is the foundation of a small rectangular building which may have been an infirmary. At some time an oven with a long flue was been inserted into this building.

For more examples of Cistercian Abbeys click the following links

Corcomroe, Co Clare Grey Abbey, Co Down Abbeyknockmoy, Co Galway Duiske Abbey, Co Kilkenny Jerpoint, Co Kilkenny Monasteranenagh, Co Limerick Abbeylara, Co Longford Abbeyshrule, Co Longford Mellifont, Co Louth Bective, Co Meath Boyle, Co Roscommon Holy Cross, Co Tipperary Hore Abbey, Co Tipperary Kilcooly, Co Tipperary Dunbrody, Co Wexford Tintern, Co Wexford Baltinglass, Co Wicklow

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