Mellifont Abbey was founded by St Malachy in 1142 and was the first and most important of Ireland’s 35 Cistercian abbeys. The term Cistercian derives from Cistercium, the Latin name for the village of Cîteaux, near Dijon in eastern France. It was in this village that a group of Benedictine monks from the monastery of Molesme founded Cîteaux Abbey in 1098, with the goal of following more closely the Rule of Saint Benedict. During this period these abbeys were at the cutting edge of engineering, hydraulics, metallurgy, agriculture and even brewing as the monks had to be self suffient! The style of architecture used is considered to be the most beautiful in medieval Europe. The remains of a ‘lavabo’ still exists on site where the monks would wash their hands in a fountain before dining. Over the years this abbey was attacked and burnt a number of times as it may have been viewed as ‘easy pickings’ and as a ‘foreign intruder’. It was also used as King William of Orange’s headquarters during The Battle of the Boyne in 1690.

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