St Malachy of Armagh introduced the Cistercian order to Ireland after visiting the order in Clairvaux on a return visit from Rome. He was so impressed that he left 3 of his monks to train in the Cistercian ways. They arrived back in 1142 and founded Mellifont Abbey near Drogheda. By the end of the 12th century there were 40 more Abbeys. They were masters in many fields of learning including hydro engineering, architecture, farming and were probably the first Irish men to sleep upstairs in a building! They ran their own shipping lines and became so rich that they even helped fund the crusades. By the time of the reformation, they owned a million acres of Ireland. After the suppression they lost nearly all their wealth. There are now only 5 Cistercian monasteries left in the country.
An excellent example of an early Irish Cistercian Monastery Boyle Abbey was the first Cistercian monastery founded in the province of Connacht and is now a national monument. It was established in 1161 [...]