Monday, June 24, 2013
Mellifont Abbey, County Louth
The Cistercian Order was founded by St. Bernard of Clairvaux in Burgundy, Central France in 1098. St. Bernard believed that the other monastic orders had become dissolute and undisciplined, and he founded the Cistercians as an austere and hard-working order who focused on a life of prayer. St. Malachy of Armagh, the Irish Saint and friend of St. Bernard, founded Mellifont Abbey in 1142 with a group of Irish and French monks.
The Abbey was extremely successful from it’s earliest stages, and it developed rapidly. Monks from Mellifont were dispatched to found ‘daughter houses’ around Ireland, within just five years of the foundation of Mellifont in 1147 a daughter house had already been established at Bective in County Meath and within twenty years the Cistercians had establishments in Connacht, such as that founded at Boyle, County Roscommon in 1161. It is recorded that at least 21 abbeys were founded by monks from Mellifont.
It was probably due to this vast ownership of prime land that Mellifont was one of the first of the Irish monastic sites to be Dissolved in 1539 during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Mellifont became the private fortified home of Sir Edward Moore, and it was here that the famous Treaty of Mellifont was signed in 1603 that ended the bloody Nine Years War. Later Mellifont played host to William of Orange, who established his headquarters at Mellifont during the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.
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