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Founded in 1142 on the orders of Saint Malachy, Archbishop of Armagh, Mellifont Abbey sits on the banks of the River Mattock, some ten km (6 miles) north-west of Drogheda. By 1170, Mellifont had one hundred monks and three hundred lay brothers.
Old Mellifont Abbey
Founded in 1142 on the orders of Saint Malachy, Archbishop of Armagh, Mellifont Abbey sits on the banks of the River Mattock, some ten km (6 miles) north-west of Drogheda. By 1170, Mellifont had one hundred monks and three hundred lay brothers. The Abbey became the model for other Cistercian abbeys built in Ireland, with its formal style of architecture imported from the abbeys of the same order in France; it was the main abbey in Ireland until it was closed in 1539, when it became a fortified house.
An important synod was held in Mellifont in 1152 as recorded in the Annals of the Four Masters, which states that the synod was attended by bishops and kings along with the papal legate John Paparo (Saint Malachy having died some 4 years beforehand). The consecration of the church took place in 1157 and asserted Church authority by banishing the King of Meath, Donnchadh Ua Maeleachlainn. Various kings gave donations to assist this foundation: Muirchertach Ua Lochlainn, provincial king of Ulster, gave cattle, some gold and also a local town land, Donnchad Ua Cearbhall, the king of Airgialla (Oriel), who had donated the land, also gave gold, while Derbforgaill, the wife of Tigernan Ua Ruairc gave gold, a chalice and altar cloths.
In 1603 the Treaty of Mellifont was agreed between the English Crown and Hugh O’Neill, Earl of Tyrone in the abbey grounds, Mellifont was then the property of Garret Moore, 1st Viscount Moore, who was a close friend of Tyrone, and helped persuade him to sign the Treaty. The Moore family remained at Mellifont until 1927. William of Orange used Mellifont Abbey House as his headquarters during the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.
Mellifont Abbey is now a ruin. Little of the original Abbey remains, save a 13th-century lavabo (where the monks washed their hands before eating), some Romanesque arches and a 14th-century chapter house. New Mellifont Abbey is home to the Cistercian Order in County Louth and is located in Collon, a small village and townland in the south west corner of County Louth, Ireland on the N2 national primary road.