A dirty grey sky hung over my visit to St’ Mary’s Abbey in Duleek, Co. Meath. I was there to take pictures of the beautiful high crosses as part of another project I have become involved in, however with the light fading and a heavy mist in the air I thought my timing was ripe for look around the old Abbey.
A monastery was founded here in the late 5th century by St Cianán. The name Duleek derives from the Irish damhliag, which means a stone church. The earliest recorded stone church in Ireland was built on this site (first mentioned in 724). Another church was built in the 12th century in the same place but the ruins that we see there today are mostly from the 13th century, with the tower house being added during the 1400s.
The tower house of the abbey is impressive in size and towers over the surrounding 13th century church and the newer Church of Ireland, which it seems served as a restaurant named ‘the spire’ at one stage in the not so recent past. It has ‘Celtic Tiger’ written all over it and its an odd spectacle amongst the ruins and graves that surround it. Two beautiful tombs stand in the ruined church and the high crosses are a marvel in their own right. I will be back there in better light, but in the meantime I hope these misty photos give an example of the strong presence of the structure.
GPS: 53.65521, -6.4186