Located in County Wexford in Ireland, the Dunbrody Abbey is a former Cistercian monastery.
The Abbey was founded in 1170 after the Norman invasion of Ireland. In 1771, Henry II led a large force into Ireland. He took control and made Ireland a territory of England.
One of the most important figures in the Norman Conquest, the Lord of Leinster Richard de Clare, instructed his uncle Herve de Montmorency to found a Cistercian monastery in the County Wexford. He donated the land to the monks of Buildwas in Shropshire in England on condition that they should build the Abbey. The Abbey of Buildwas sent a lay brother to survey the land and after his report, they had turned down the gift.
After the rejection of the monks of Buildwas, the land was offered to St. Mary’s Cistercian Abbey in Dublin.
The monks of the Abby were delighted with their new land and in 1182 they sent a community to the site.
The gothic cross-shaped church was built in the 13th century for the monks of Dunbrody Abbey while the tower was built into in the 15th century.
The church is one of the longest in Ireland with a length of 59 meters.
The abbey was very successful until the 16th century when it was dissolved by Henry VIII. Alexander Devereux was the last Abbot of Dunbrody who became Bishop of Frensin in 1539.
Henry VIII issued the Dissolution of the Monasteries after his split with the Church of Rome. Dunbrody was part of the first round of suppressions in Ireland and was officially dissolved in 1536.
In 1545 the land was given to Sir Osborne Etchingham and part of the church was converted into a residence.
In 1852 on Christmas Eve, a massive collapse occurred destroying the south wall of the church and part of the monastery. After this incident, the Dunbrody Abby lies in ruins until this day.
Next to the Abbey’s visitors center, which was opened by the Earl of Belfast, is Dunbrody Castle.
Inside and around the castle there is a museum, a craft shop, and a doll house. The most magnificent part is the maze in the castle’s garden.
The maze contains 1, 500 Yew trees which are quite high and there is a Pitch and Putt course around the outside of the maze. It is one of the two full- size mazes in Ireland.