Inch Abbey, Downpatrick, County Down          1180

Inch Abbey was established as a Cistercian house by John de Courcy and his wife Affreca in 1180 as an act of repentance for the destruction Erinagh Abbey 3 years earlier. There had been an earlier monastery at this location which was originally on an island, however, its wooden buildings were burned down and plundered by Vikings during the 800’s. Inch Abbey was populated by monks from the Abbeys of Lancashire and Erinagh and the buildings would have comprised of a church, cloisters, lavabos, refectories, an infirmary and a bake house with two ovens. This by medieval standards was regarded as wealthy. This was also one of the first buildings in Ireland to use Gothic architecture with its pointed windows as opposed to the rounded Romanesque style that was the norm at the time. Monastic life continued here right up until 1541 when it was finally dissolved King Henry VIII. The abbey and its 850 acres were granted to Gerald, Earl of Kildare. Recently Inch Abbey was used as a film location for Game of Thrones.