Boyle Abbey was the first Cistercian monastery founded in the province of Connacht and is now a national monument. 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, a rectangular cloister area, a chapter house for meetings, a kitchen and refectory as well as store houses and a dormitory. It still retains beautiful decorated corbels and capitals that were probably carved by local masons, some of them members of the so-called ‘School of the West’, who created some of the most inventive architectural sculpture of the time. Today, only small parts of the cloister remains. The Elizabethans converted it into a military barracks in 1592 and Cromwell wrecked the place as per usual in 1645! Despite its ruined state, it is still an excellent example of what an early Cistercian Irish monastery looked like and now houses an interpretative exhibition.