Howth, King Sitric & An abbey with a view

St Mary’s Abbey is located in Howth in north county Dublin. Howth has strong Viking connections and its name is derived from the old Norse name for ‘Head’. King Sitric, the Norse Viking King of Dublin, founded the earliest church here 1042 in what was then a waterfront site. The church was replaced around 1235 by this abbey which was amalgamated with the monastery on Ireland’s Eye, It was then rebuilt late in the 14th century. The abbey was served by a community of 3 or more priests. The church originally had two aisles, each of which had a gabled roof. The building was again modified in the 15th and 16th centuries when a larger gable and bell-cote were added. A new phase of reconstruction is underway on the perimeter wall after a heavy rainstorm in October 2011 uncovered a number of coffins!