An excellent example of an early Irish Cistercian Monastery

Boyle Abbey was established in 1161 under the patronage of the MacDermotts and was completed in 1218. It was the first Cistercian monastery founded in the province of Connacht and had a church, a rectangular cloister area, a chapter house for meetings, a kitchen and refectory as well as storehouses and a dormitory. It still retains beautiful decorated corbels and capitals that were probably carved by local masons, some of the members of the so-called ‘School of the West’ who created some of the most inventive architectural sculpture of the time. Today, only a small part of the cloister remains. The Elizabethans converted it into a military barracks in 1592 and Cromwell wrecked the place and used it for his horses 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 is now classified as a national monument and houses an interpretative exhibition.