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Abbeyderg (Priory)

also known as: Dearg, Mainistir Dhearg, Abbeydarigh, Monasterick, Monasteryk, S. Peter de Rubio, Monaster Rerick ('The red monastery')

Order: Augustinian Canons

The Augustinian Priory of Abbeyderg was founded in the reign of King John (Med. religious houses, Ire. 156), or shortly before the year 1199 (Caimin O’Brien LF018-066001- Archaeological Survey of Ireland, (Record Details) on Caimin O’Brien, Posted 26 August 2011), by Gormghall Ó Cuinn, chief of Muintir Ghiollagáin, who were lords of the baronies of Ardagh, Shrule and Moydow.

It was closely associated with the O'Ferrel (O'Farrell) family, who held important positions within the priory, and retained it for a period after its suppression.

According to Pádraig Ó Riain, one of the earliest manuscript copies of the Martyrology of Óengus was held at the priory of Abbeyderg in Co. Longford. (Pádraig Ó Riain, 240)

According to Brendan Scott, the religious house of Abbeyderg had no viable community residing within its walls at all at the time of the suppression. Along with Inchmore, Kilmacahill, Templenasagart and Ardnacrany, they were dissolved through the surrender of their abbots and priors, but this happened in theory only. The Gaelic O’Farrell family had taken over these houses and their contents before the period of the dissolution, two members of the O’Farrell family, Richard and John, were abbots of the houses of Granard and Abbeyderg respectively. The commissioners did not feel that it was safe to visit the houses in 1540 to value them, or in 1539, when it is likely that they were dissolved, as ‘all the possessions are in the Annale among the Irish, for fear of whom it is not safe to approach thither for the purpose of making extents’. (Brendan Scott, 269)

The Augustinian priory originally consisted of a nave and chancel church, with a cloister to the south, and a range of small chambers on the eastern side of the cloister range. A rectangular structure exists on the north side of the priory church, but this is not indicated on the 1837 edition of the OS 6-inch map, and it is possible that this was a private burial added in the late 19th century. A square-shaped tower appears to have existed at the Western end of the priory church – it is not clear whether this was built with the church, or added to the priory in the late medieval period. The nave and chancel church is built with rubble masonry, with cut and dressed alternating quoins. The best-preserved part of this church is at the east end, with the east gable standing to its full height, with three single-light pointed windows. Unglazed sandstone windows set into widely-splayed embrasures date from the 13th century. The windows and external walls were reconstructed and repointed recently as part of a graveyard clean-up scheme.
To the north of the chancel, low walls survive of a small, rectangular room (possibly a transept chapel), located at the crossing point between nave and chancel of the priory church. Opposite this chapel running off the south wall of the priory are three small chambers, which form the eastern range of a cloister area. This is largely destroyed, and the cells have been reused as private burial plots, so evidence of their original dimensions is difficult to see.
Architectural fragments placed at the base of the south wall of the church include a small circular millstone and a fragment of a medieval cross-inscribed graveslab. A larger millstone has been placed inside the wall at the south side of the graveyard. Low earthworks in the fields to the north, east and south of the graveyard may be associated with the priory, including a mill site.

The early 17th century map of Moydow barony depicts the priory as ‘Derge Abbey’ and shows a possible crossing tower or castellated transept chapel rising above the roofline of the priory. (NLI n.1163)
The Down Survey map of Tagsheenod parish shows the lands of ‘Abby Derry’ as ‘Colledge Land in Possession of Sr James Ware’ (NLI ms. 719).
In the late 17th century, the site is described as consisting of ‘the ruins of a Priory of the Cannons of St. Augustines Order called Derg or Monasterderg).

Caimin O’Brien LF018-066001- Archaeological Survey of Ireland, (Record Details) on Caimin O’Brien, Posted 26 August 2011

Name of Foundation: Priory of St. Peter
Dedicated to: St. Peter

Barony: Moydow/ Maigh Dumha
Civil Parish: Taghsheenod/ Teach Sionaid
Townland: Abbeyderg (Mainistir Dhearg)
Kingdom/Lordship: Muintir Ghiollagáin/O'Farrell
Early mediaeval Kingdom/Lordship: Tethba, Uí Ainglide (Annaly)
Late mediaeval Kingdom/Lordship: O'Farrell

Main events in the history of this site

- Lands valued at £2 (Irish) (Med. religious houses, Ire., 156) 
1199 - 1216Foundation - Founded in the reign of King John by Gormgall O'Quinn/ Gormghall Ó Cuinn (Med. religious houses, Ire., 156) 
1217 - Ossian, abbot of the canons of Mainisterderg died in 1217 (ALC)(Med. religious houses, Ire., 156) 
1255Burial - Brendan, bishop of Ardagh, was buried in this abbey in 1255 (WB), (Med. religious houses, Ire., 156) 
1400 - Nicholas Mac Murtagh was appointed as prior of Derge, then void by the death of Christian O’Donegan (Med. religious houses, Ire., 156) 
1400 - 1400 – Boniface IX
11 Kal. Feb., St. Peter’s Rome, (f. 253).
To Thomas Macmurchertaich. The like in Elphin; notwithstanding that the pope has recently ordered provision to be made to him of a canonry in Ardagh, with the expectation of a prebend, and of the rectory, without cure, of Monterangaly, in the diocese of Ardagh. Vite etc. Concurrent mandate to the bishop of Monopoli, the prior of Derg in the diocese of Ardagh, and the official of Ardagh. Vite etc. (CPL, 5, 341) 
1414Obit - The burial of Feidlim Ó Cuinn, lord of Muinter Gillgáin in Abbeyderg. 
1424 - Prior John O’Donegan died in 1424 and was succeeded by Cormac Mac Murtagh (Med. religious houses, Ire., 156) 
1463, 27 August - 1463 6. Kal. Sept. (27 Aug.) Tivoli. (f. 281d.)Pius II.
To the prior of Dearg in the diocese of Ardagh. Mandate as below. Upon the rectory of the rural lands or plebes of Muntyreolays in the diocese of Ardagh, said by some to be of lay patronage, although no lay patron is to be found who has used such a right, becoming void at the apostolic see and therefore ipso facto reserved to the pope, by the death there of its rector, Robert Magranail, the pope granted provision thereof to Rory Magranayl, clerk opf the said diocese, who also died at the said see, so that it is still reserved, although a number of canons of Ardagh (on the ground that Cormac bishop of Ardagh had formerly divided [amongst] the canons’ prebends the said rectory, as void by the death of Cornelius Y[f]aragayl, after the issue of a citation by a certain papal delegate at the instance of the above Robert, to whom provision had been ordered to be made by papal authority, although the said bishop afterwards consented to the sentence delivered on behalf of the said Robert) have unduly detained possession, as they still do, of a part of the said rectory. The pope therefore orders the above prior to collate and assign the rectory, the cure of which has been wont to be exercised by perpetual vicars, and whose value does not exceed 24 marks sterling, to Donald Ofeargayl, clerk, of the same diocese, who is illegitimate, being the son of a priest and an unmarried woman, summoning and removing the said canons and any other unlawful detainers; whether it be void as above, or by the resignation of the said Robert and Rory or of Dinatus Y[f]argayl, clerk, of the same diocese, or by the deaths of Malachy Miccukoyg and the said Cornelius Y[f]argayl, or in any other way. Donald is here dispensed to receive and retain it, notwithstanding the said defect etc. (CPL, Vol. 11, 508 - 509) 
1476 - Prior Geoffrey O’Ferral died in 1476. 
1486 - Prior Cormac Mac Murtagh died in 1486, when Malachy O’Ferral took possession, but was replaced by Eugene Mackonkagent in 1487 (McNamee), (Med. religious houses, Ire., 156) 
1519Obit - Death of Mailín son of Tomás Ó Maolchonaire, ollam (poet)in Mainistir Derg (ALC, AConn) 
1540, 8 October - 8 October 1540, Monasterick was one of the five monasteries in the Annaly, taken into the king’s hands through the surrender of the abbots or priors, but the commissioners could not enter the district through fear of the Irish. It was reported, through Sir Thomas Cusak, Monasteryk was occupied by John O’Ferrel, the late abbot, who was there, although he was £8 in arrears in rent in 1548. (Extents)(Med. religious houses, Ire., 156) 
1551-2 - 1551-2 Shane O’Ferald (Ferral) was granted a 21-year lease on the site of the monastery of Monasterderge. 
1567 - 1567 – Thomas Byram was granted a 21 year lease of the site of S. Peter de Rubio alias Monaster Rerick [Abbeyderg]. 
1582 - Granted to Nicholas Ailmer,(HT) in 1582 (Med. religious houses, Ire., 156) 
+ 9 minor events. Show minor events

Bibliographical sources

4 Printed sources

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Longford, OSI Grid:N1412565383