Boyle Abbey, Boyle. County Roscommon         1161 –  1592

Boyle Abbey was the first Cistercian monastery founded in the Province of Connacht. It was established in 1161 under the patronage of the MacDermotts who ruled this area at the time and was completed in 1218. It had a church on the north side of a rectangular cloister area, a chapter house for meetings on a second side, a kitchen and reflectory on the third, and store houses and a dormitory on the fourth. It still retains decorated corbels and capitals that were probably carved by local masons, some of them members of the so-called ‘School of the West’, creating some of the most inventive architectural sculpture of the time. Today, only small parts of the cloister remain, as the Elizabethans converted it into a military barracks in 1592 and Cromwell wrecked the place as per usual in 1645! Despite its ruined state, the abbey continues to be an excellent example of an early Cistercian Irish monastery and now houses an excellent interpretative exhibition and has been classified as a national monument.