Rathkeale Abbey is the ruins of a 16th century structure that replaced an earlier 13th century building. Known as St Mary’s Priory, it was first founded in 1210 by Gilbert Hervey for the Augustinian Canons of the Order of Aroasia, from the Diocese of Arras in France (Lille and surrounding area). Hervey’s niece Elinor Purcell endowed the canons with the tenth loaf of every baking, the tenth flagon of every brewing, the tenth pork, mutton and a large part of every Ox killed in the Manor of Mayer or Croagh. Elinor’s son Hugh inherited this debt of endowment and must have not been overly happy with the scenario as he had to be sued in 1307 by the Prior of Saint Mary’s for not fulfilling the grants. Hugh agreed to compromise and gave the prior two crannogs of bread corn, three crannogs of oats on the Feast of Saint Michael and four porks on the Feast of Saint Martin in perpetuity. Records show that in 1436 it was claimed that the Virgin Mary had worked several miracles at the abbey. It was sometime in the early 16th century when Rathkeale Abbey was rebuilt, and would have had a very short life span before the Suppression of the Monasteries in 1542, it is believed that a small community of Augustinian canons remained in the area until 1581. During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I the last prior named Gerot Baluff or Gerald Balfe was killed during the Desmond Rebellion. The abbey and significant land was then granted to Sir Henry Wallop. The abbey was repaired and restored during the 1970s.
GPS: 52.52371, -8.93244