St Mary's Abbey

Church Lane , Duleek , Co. Meath

St Mary's Abbey
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About St Mary's Abbey

St Mary's Abbey is located at Church Lane in Duleek, Co. Meath.

St. Mary's Abbey is located on the site of an early Christian monastic settlement established by St Patrick as a bishopric in about 450 AD and placed in the care of St Cianan in 489. The place was sacked several times by the Norsemen between 830 and 1149 and was also pillaged by the Anglo-Normans in 1171. The ruins of St Cianan's original stone church are to the northwest of St Mary's Abbey and across the road from it.

In April 1014 the bodies of Brian Ború and his son lay in state in Duleek on their way to Armagh.

The late 12th century saw the reconstitution of the original monastery as St Mary's Abbey. The first Anglo-Norman Overlord of Meath, Hugh de Lacy, granted St Cianan's Church, together with certain lands, to the Augustinians in about 1180.

In the 16th century a massive square tower was built alongside the earlier round tower. The latter is no longer standing but the scar where it was joined onto the square tower is clearly visible on its northern face.

In the churchyard are two Celtic high crosses The North Cross and The South Cross. These are believed to date from the 10th century. They are similar to The Great Cross of Monasterboice. Within the church are some early cross-slabs, a Romanesque pilaster-capital and the base and head of the South Cross. In the aisle are some 16th and 17th century monuments including an effigial tomb of Dr Cusack, Bishop of Meath 1679-88. Also here are two tombs one covers the remains of Lord Bellew who was killed in action at the Battle of Aughrim 1691 and a mensa-slab is supported by tomb-surrounds bearing the arms of Bellew, Plunkett, Preston and St Lawrence. The east window (bearing the arms of Sir John Bellew and Dame Ismay Nugent beneath it) is a 1587 post-Gothic replacement.

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