The Abbey at St. Mullin’s

St Mullins Abbey (1)

Adjacent to An Teampall Mór is the remains of an early 11th century church which is known as the Abbey. It would have been the largest building to be found on the site of a monastery founded by St. Moling 400 years earlier. It started of as a simple chancel church which was later added to over the next few centuries. A rectangular structure with only the North wall still intact and parts of the south and east walls surviving.

St Mullins Abbey (2)

St Mullins Abbey (3)

St Mullins Abbey (4)

St Mullins Abbey (5)

The original structure was divided by a chancel arch, The chancel was slightly narrower than the nave which was added later. There was an Ogee-headed window in the north wall of nave. The south wall in the west corner still shows signs of a broken spiral stairs which would have led to an upper level. This was adjacent to a Round tower built in the 11th century, which once stood beside the Abbey and looks to have been attached at one stage. It is believed that the door to the round tower faced the door to the chancel.

St Mullins Abbey (6)

St Mullins Abbey (7)

St Mullins Abbey (8)

St Mullins Abbey (9)

Beginning the construction of the Abbey in the 15th century involved raising and thickening the existing church walls, to provide an additional storey overhead. A barrel vaulted ceiling was used to give a strong support to the upper level. There are fine examples of these which can be seen at Oughterard and Oughavel to mention just a few. access to the upper floor which would have been used as sleeping quarters for the monks was via an intramural staircase or the Night Stairs, as it was known.

St Mullins Abbey (10)

St Mullins Abbey (13)

St Mullins Abbey (12)

St Mullins Abbey (11)

The structure used a hammer beam roof and was probably used as a refectory or library. The West gable wall was light by a gothic trefoil or trinity window. The monastery was suppressed sometime between 1536 & 1539 which led to the lands and buildings being granted to the Kavanagh family. Oddly enough the Kavanagh name was adopted by descendants of Diarmuid Mac Murchadha whom was King of Leinster and was the treacherous fool responsible for the Norman invasion of Ireland. So the Abbey was converted by the Kavanagh’s for use as a private dwelling although the kept the chapel for use in religious services. The western part of the Abbey underwent major alterations to accommodate its new purpose. A large fire place was installed where the original 11th century entrance had been. Corbels were added into the walls to support a new timber floor.

St Mullins Abbey (14)

St Mullins Abbey (17)

St Mullins Abbey (16)

St Mullins Abbey (15)

In around 1738 a fire destroyed much of the Abbey and there is little reference to it after this date. During the fire the west wall and cloister is believed to have collapsed. All that remains now are the ruins of what was once a remarkable building. You can still see the stone alter and a number of underground rooms which were most likely storage cellars. Perhaps for the monks to keep their wine in?

St Mullins Abbey (18)

St Mullins Abbey (21)

St Mullins Abbey (20)

St Mullins Abbey (19)

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About edmooneyphotography

Photographer, Blogger, Ruinhunter, with an unhealthy obsession for history, mythology and the arcane.
This entry was posted in Diary of a Ruinhunter, Photography, Religious Sites and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

33 Responses to The Abbey at St. Mullin’s

  1. nicciattfield says:

    Oh, look at all that beautiful texture in the stones!


  2. Pingback: St. Mullins Ecclesiastical site | EdMooneyPhotography

  3. E.D. says:

    beautiful photos… thanks eve


  4. Ed, you certainly have your monochrome skills down to a science. Was the establishing shot cropped or a pieced together panorama? Nice work!


    • Thanks Robert, that’s a big compliment coming from you. As they say, practise makes perfect. It was a panorama, five shots stitched together. I hate doing them because they don’t always work out, but I didn’t have a wide enough lense to fit the entire scene in one shot.


  5. Wonderful and I too love the panorama!! It all gives me the shivers. And again I love your histories of the sites!!


  6. Fascinating!
    There is a new scheme starting up in Britain on Church Grafitti – the older the better. Here is a link:
    I aim to have a look locally. Might add another dimension to your interests – but not, hopefully, to the work you already put in with this!



  7. John says:

    Such beautiful photos and history. Always amazed by your work!


  8. YorkshireRascal says:

    A great series of photographs Ed . you processing adds real atmosphere


  9. Karen says:

    Such beautiful, evocative shots. The black & white treatment really brings out the bones of the structures. And what stories they are still anxious to tell!


  10. lauramacky says:

    You definitely set a mood! Amazing to even imagine being in those times.


  11. Pingback: The Stump | EdMooneyPhotography

  12. Pingback: St. James Cell | EdMooneyPhotography

  13. What a structure. I loved the spiral stairs.


  14. Thank you for liking “Rock Art: Part 1.” I admire the amazing detail of these photos and the interesting angles of these shots. I also appreciate the background information that you provide in your posts. Well done! 🙂


  15. Pingback: The Bath | EdMooneyPhotography

  16. cmatitibala says:

    Reblogged this on chewmoney and commented:
    very educational


  17. megdekorne says:

    Gorgeous photography …Thankyou for new creative inspiration !

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Thank you for visiting my blog “A Picture a Day”. Much appreciated. Your work is completely different from mine, but I enjoy looking at it.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I enjoyed the b&w atmospheric photos of the abbey, ruins are a great subject for b&w. Are you using film or digital? I used to enjoy processing my own b&w film but then I discovered I enjoyed making objects and took photographs purely for inspiration for making. Happy snapping and thank you for dropping by on my site. I look forward to your posts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Veronica, I only got into photography a few years ago so I missed out on film. Its something I would love to learn. One of the old guys in my camera club is a staunch film user, he does things in the darkroom that I would struggle with in Photoshop. 🙂


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