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Boyle Abbey



A celebrated Cistercian house situated on the River Boyle, nine miles northwest of Elphin, in the present County of Roscommon, Ireland. It was founded by Maurice O'Duffy in the year 1161, and was in close connection with Mellifont, the parent house of the Cistercian Order in Ireland. In the year 1218 (Annals of Ireland) the church of Boyle Abbey was solemnly consecrated. A great number of the Abbots of Boyle were appointed bishops in the Province of Connaught during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, and more especially in the Dioceses of Elphin and Achonry. In 1235, the English forces under the joint command of Maurice Fitzgerald and McWilliam forcibly took possession of the abbey, seized all the goods, vestments, and chalices belonging to the monastery and stripped the monks of their habits in their cloister. During the reign of Queen Elizabeth the abbey was suppressed and its lands and possessions handed over (1569) to Patrick Cusack of Gerrardston, County Meath. From the list of its lands then made it clear that Boyle must have been one of the most richly endowed religious houses in Ireland. In 1589, a lease of the abbey was granted to William Ussher. During the reign of King James I several inquisitions were held in connection with the lands of Boyle Abbey, and in 1603 a lease of it was granted to Sir John King.

Perhaps the most eminent of the Abbots of Boyle was Donchad O'Daly who died in 1250, and who was recognized as a poet of very special merit. He is spoken of as the Ovid of Ireland. Many of the princes of Connaught retired to Boyle before their death and more especially the princes of the family of McDermot of Moylurg. The Abbey of Boyle is now in ruins, but from the remains still to be seen near the present town of Boyle it was evidently a place of great importance and of some architectural pretensions.

ARCHDALL, Monasticon Hibernicon (60l-606); ALEMAND, Histoire Monastique de l'Ireland (Paris, 1690), l9l; MURPHY, Our Martyrs, 115; RUSHE, A Second Thebaid (Dublin, l905), 130; O'FLAHERTY, West Connaught, 355-379.

James MacCaffrey








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