Old Mellifont Abbey
In 1142, the first Cistercians came to Ireland at the invitation of St Malachy, archbishop of Armagh. He had visited the famous monastery of Clairvaux on a journey to Rome and, impressed by what he found there, asked St Bernard, the abbot, to train some of his companions in the monastic way of life. These monks, together with some ten other French monks, became the founders of old Mellifont Abbey, about two miles from Monasterboice. The site was donated by O’Carroll, chieftain of Oriel.
The monastery flourished and founded several other Cistercian houses in Ireland. Monastic life continued there until King Henry VIII’s suppression of the monasteries in 1539.
Today the ruins of Old Mellifont are in the care of Heritage Ireland, with an informative Visitor Centre. See their web page here.
(More details on the history of Old Mellifont can be found on the Archdiocese of Armagh website here.)
New Mellifont Abbey
In 1938, at the invitation of Cardinal McRory, the monks of Mount Melleray Abbey in Co. Waterford founded a new monastery at “Oriel Temple”, Collon, on lands which had been part of the property of Mellifont Abbey four hundred years before.
Successors to the monks of Old Mellifont, inheritors of the teaching and example of St Bernard, the present community continues to live Cistercian life in the archdiocese of Armagh, a living, praying community whose life bears fruit for the locality and for all the world.