Knockmoy Abbey | Attraction Guides | History Hit

Knockmoy Abbey

Tuam, County Galway, Ireland

Sarah Roller

24 Nov 2020
Image Credit: James Curley Photography / Shutterstock

About Knockmoy Abbey

Abbeyknockmoy Abbey in County Galway was founded in 1189 by Cathal Crovdearg O’Connor, the last great King of Connacht and is one of the best preserved examples of 12th century church architecture in Ireland.

History of Abbeyknockmoy

Founded in 1189, the abbey was settled by Cistercians from the nearby Boyle Abbey in County Roscommon – its layout reflects its Cistercian origins. Most of what can be seen today dates from the 13th century.

Plundered in 1200 and again in 1228, twelve years later the Abbot was censured for having his hair washed by a woman. In 1483 the Abbot was accused of setting the monastery on fire but in the late 1530s, its fate was decided by Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries.

It seems a form of secularised monasticism was practised at Abbeyknockmoy for a hundred years or so until ownership was passed to the Blake family in 1652.

Today, visitors can see some outstanding examples of medieval wall paintings and sculptures, an impressive capital, ornate stonework in the chancel as well as one of the last surviving medieval frescoes in Ireland.

There are also a number of tombs, including ‘one of the very few late medieval stone inscriptions written in the Irish language.’

Abbeyknockmoy today

The abbey is open daily, free of charge. There’s almost no visitor signage and no facilities – don’t come expecting a big site. However, it’s a must for Medieval art lovers in the area, and is a happy enough way to pass an hour or so if you’re driving through Galway or Roscommon.

Getting to Abbeyknockmoy

Abbeyknockmoy is in County Galway, just off the N63 and about 5 minutes from Junction 19 of the M17. It’s roughly a 20 minute drive from Tuam or 40 minutes from the city of Galway itself.

Public transport is somewhat scarce in rural Ireland, but you can get bus 425 (Galway – Longford). You’ll need to change buses in Knockdoemore, Loughgeorge if you’re coming from Tuam.

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