Baltinglass Abbey (Irish: Mainistir Bhealach Conglais)[1] is a ruined medieval Cistercian abbey in Baltinglass, County Wicklow, Ireland. Founded by Diarmait Mac Murchada in 1148, the abbey was suppressed in 1536. It is today a National Monument.[2]

Baltinglass Abbey
Mainistir Bhealach Conglais
View of Baltinglass Abbey looking across the Slaney
Baltinglass Abbey is located in Ireland
Baltinglass Abbey
Location within Ireland
Monastery information
Other namesVallis Salutis
Mother houseMellifont Abbey
DioceseKildare and Leighlin
Founder(s)Diarmait Mac Murchada
Functional statusRuined
StyleRomanesque, Gothic
LocationChurch Lane, Baltinglass,
County Wicklow, Ireland
Coordinates52°56′38″N 6°42′35″W / 52.943886°N 6.709747°W / 52.943886; -6.709747
Public accessyes
Official nameBaltinglass Abbey
Reference no.230

History edit

Nave of the church. The 1832 tomb of the Stratford family is visible at right.

Founded in 1148 by Diarmait Mac Murchada, the King of Leinster, Baltinglass Abbey sits beside the River Slaney in a valley of the Wicklow Mountains.[3] The original name Belach Conglais means "pass of Cú Glas," referring to a mythological hero that was killed by wild boars.[4] The abbey is roughly contemporary with Ferns Abbey, St Saviour's Priory, and possibly also Killeshin Church. [5]

Baltinglass Abbey was established as a daughter house of Mellifont Abbey, a Cistercian abbey near Drogheda.[6] Diarmait gave it the Latin name Vallis Salutis, meaning "Valley of Salvation", and granted it eight parcels of land in the region as an endowment.

Grangecon, a nearby village, was originally an out-farm of the monks. They operated a corn-mill in the area that the village now occupies.[7]

The first stage of the building was completed by 1170, it had become the mother house of Jerpoint Abbey in about 1160,[8] and in 1228 it is recorded that there were 36 monks and 50 lay brothers living at Baltinglass.[9]

The Abbey was occupied for nearly 400 years until it was shut down by the 1536 Dissolution of the Monasteries and granted to Edmond Butler, 3rd/13th Baron Dunboyne. A Church of Ireland church was built within the abbey itself in 1815, but it closed in 1883.[10][11]

Architecture edit

Tower and arcade

The stonework at the abbey shows carved humans and animals and is a particular Cistercian form of Romanesque architecture.[12] The decoration on the capitals is similar to that at its daughter house Jerpoint.[13][14][15] [16]

The surviving church (56 m in length) and some of the cloister date from the 12th century, consisting of the nave with aisles, chancel, square presbytery with three-light window and a pair of transepts from which small chapels project. The south aisle of the church is joined to the choir by a twelfth-century doorway. Part of the original cloister, to the south of the church, has been rebuilt. The church also has 13th and 15th-century additions. The east windows and tower were built in the nineteenth century.

A glazed tile potentially depicting Saint George and the Dragon was unearthed at the abbey in 1941. At that point, it was the only tile ever found in Ireland with a human figure painted on it.[17]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "Mainistir Bhealach Conglais / Baltinglass Abbey Historical Marker". Retrieved 23 November 2022.
  2. ^ "National Monuments of County Wicklow in State Care" (PDF). National Monument Service. p. 1. Retrieved 29 March 2020.
  3. ^ O'Keefe 1997, p. 53.
  4. ^ "Bealach Conglais - How Baltinglass got its name". County Wicklow Heritage. 10 November 2017. Retrieved 23 November 2022.
  5. ^ O'Keefe 1997, p. 71.
  6. ^ Gwynn & Hadcock 1970, p. 127.
  7. ^ "The Irish village at a crossroads". The Irish Times. 5 April 2008. Retrieved 19 January 2023.
  8. ^ Vál, Séamus de (2008). "A Glance at Five Cistercian Abbeys of the South-East". The Past: The Organ of the Uí Cinsealaigh Historical Society (29): 54–76. JSTOR 44554278. Retrieved 29 August 2023.
  9. ^ "Cistercian Abbeys: Baltinglass". The Digital Humanities Institute. University of Sheffield. Retrieved 29 August 2023.
  10. ^ Past, Ed Hannon-Visions of the (9 September 2012). "Baltinglass Abbey, Wicklow, Ireland".
  11. ^ "Baltinglass Cistercian Abbey - Monastic Ireland".
  12. ^ O'Keefe 1997, p. 57.
  13. ^ "Baltinglass Abbey - Wicklow County Tourism".
  14. ^ CHI. "Baltinglass Abbey, Co. Wicklow".
  15. ^ "Baltinglass Abbey, Wicklow".
  16. ^ "Baltinglass Cistercian Abbey".
  17. ^ Parker 1941, p. 148.

Sources edit