These are the ruins of Mellifont Abbey, founded in 1142 by St Malachy. This was the first of the 35 Cistercian monasteries to be founded in Ireland and remained as the ‘mother ship’ for the rest. The Cistercian’s introduced Gothic architecture from Europe into Ireland. Their monks came from France and their main aim was to follow the example lead by St Benedict by carrying out manual labour and aiming to be self sufficient. Such abbeys were at the cutting edge of engineering, hydraulics, metallurgy, agriculture and even brewing! Their style of architecture is considered to be the most beautiful to be found in medieval Europe. The interesting remains of a ‘lavabo’ still exist in Mellifont where the monks would wash their hands in a fountain before dining. The abbey was attacked and burnt a number of times as it may have been viewed as a ‘foreign intruder’. It was also used by William of Orange as his headquarters during The Battle of the Boyne.

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