also known as: Carrigillihy; Abbey of Mawe; Abbey of MawerOrder: Cistercian
A daughter-house of Baltinglass (Vallis Salutis), Co Wicklow reputedly founded in the late twelfth century by Diarmait son of Cormac MacCarthy, king of Desmond (d. 1185). No foundation charter survives and the earliest reference to MacCarthy as founder is in Ware De Hibernia et antiquitatibus eius (1654).
A daughter-house of Baltinglass (Vallis Salutis), Co Wicklow reputedly founded in the late twelfth century by Diarmait son of Cormac MacCarthy, king of Desmond (d. 1185). No foundation charter survives and the earliest reference to MacCarthy as founder is in Ware De Hibernia et antiquitatibus eius (1654). The district name Ó Badamhna (modern Irish Ó mBána) derives from a local pre-Norman dynasty. The name was later corrupted to Mahon. The earliest reference to a monastery in Ó mBána concerns the burial in 1231 of the regional king and rival to the MacCarthys, Áed son of Conchobhar Ó Donnchadha (O’Donoghue) in a monk’s habit in the old monastery of Ó Badamhna. This may refer to Aghamanister or perhaps to Timoleague (qv) prior to the foundation of a Franciscan friary there in the early fourteenth century. Diarmait son of Domhnall Cairbrech MacCarthy was buried in the ‘new monastery’ of Crecán (modern townland ‘Creggane’) in Ó Badamhna in 1278, probably the first genuine reference to the Cistercian foundation. MacCarthy received the monastic habit from Patrick Ó hUallacháin (O’Hoolahan), bishop of Ross and abbot of the monastery. O’Hoolahan’s family dominated the monastery throughout the late medieval period and they are consistently mentioned in papal letters in relation to holding onto the monastery’s abbacy. They were a hereditary ecclesiastical family whose claims were often disputed mainly due to the fact that they were said to be the illegitimate sons of monks and priests, and that they were not properly professed as Cistercians. As early as 1282 the administration of the monastery was transferred to Mellifont (qv) when the abbot was accused of making false statements. In the fifteenth century protracted disputes arose concerning the abbacies of Maurice O’Hoolahan, Robert O’Hoolahan and Donatus O’Hoolahan. Occasionally the papacy accepted abbots other than the O’Hoolahans as in the cases of Nicholas O’Heda, a monk of the Cistercian monastery of St Sebastian in Rome (1433), or of Edmund de Courcy, bishop of Clogher (1488), but their abbacies rarely lasted any length of time. Franciscans, whose foundation at Timoleague was nearby, also intruded into the abbacy. Maurice O’Hoolahan, who is described as a friar minor, took possession of Abbeymahon for five years in the 1420s. Edmund de Courcy was a Franciscan. Thaddeus MacCarthy (d. 1492), a Franciscan and controversial bishop of Ross, was briefly abbot c. 1488-9 while John O’Hurley, abbot of Abbeymahon, became bishop of Ross in 1517 and died two years later in a Franciscan habit and was buried in Timoleague. In 1541 the jurors found the abbey church to be the local parish church and the rest of the monastic buildings thrown down except for those used by a farmer. The abbey and its lands were granted in 1584 to Nicholas Walshe, Justice of the Province of Munster.Name of Foundation: S. Maria de Fonte Vivo
Dedicated to: Blessed Virgin Mary/St Mary
Affiliated to: Baltinglass (mother-house)
Barony: Ibane and Barryroe
Civil Parish: Abbeymahon
Townland: Abbeymahon (Mainistir Ó mBána)
Early mediaeval Kingdom/Lordship: Uí Badamhna, Uí Echach Muman
Late mediaeval Kingdom/Lordship: Desmond; Barryroe
Site Description: The original site was at Aghamanister (Ahamonister – Achadh Mhainistreach ), about 2 miles from Abbeymahon. A small section of featureless wall survives, together with the stone foundations of a rectangular structure . The scale of this building implies a parish, rather than a monastic church, and it seems likely that this post-dates the Cistercian settlement there.
At Abbeymahon the existing remains are relatively plain, but sufficient to confirm that the church followed the typical Irish Cistercian plan – square-ended presbytery, transepts with at least one eastern chapel and nave. The chancel and barrel vaulted south chapel (c. 3m x 2.7) remain partially standing. At some point, possibly in the late sixteenth century, the church was drastically reduced in size by inserting a cross wall to shorten the nave and by blocking the transepts. The western entrance to the transept chapel was built up and a new entrance opened from the south wall of the chancel. A turret was placed on the new west façade.
Very little survives of the conventual buildings. In the south-west corner of what was once the cloister are the remnants of a residential tower, possibly the abbot’s lodging.
Main events in the history of this site
c.1172: Foundation - foundation from Baltinglass under the patronage of Diarmait son of Cormac MacCarthy
1278: Burial - Diarmait son of Domhnall Cairbrech MacCarthy buried in ‘new monastery’. Patrick O’Hoolahan bishop of Ross and abbot of the Cistercian monastery
1282: Administration - Monastery placed under Mellifont
c.1400-1460: - the abbacy of the hereditary family, the O’Hoolahans
c.1475-1500: - the abbacy in the possession of Franciscans including Edmund Courcy, bishop of Clogher and Thaddeus MacCarthy, bishop of Ross & Cork and Cloyne
1584: Dissolution - monastery granted to Nicholas Walshe, Justice of Province of Munster
+ 4 minor events. Show minor events
People associated with this site
Thadeus MacCarthy , bishop of Ross & Corkand Clyne
Robert O'Hoolahan , Abbot
Nicholas Walshe , Sir
Edmund de Courcy , Bishop of Clogher
Diarmait son of Cormac MacCarthy , king of Desmond
Diarmait son of Domhnall Cairbrech MacCarthy , king of Desmond
4 Printed sourcesshow sources
O'Sullivan, D., 'The Cistercian abbey of St. Mary de Fonte Vivo, diocese of Ross, Co. Cork’' JCHAS 49 (1949) 1-9
Stalley, Roger, 'The Cistercian Monasteries of Ireland' (London & New Haven 1987)
Ware, Sir James, 'De Hibernia et antiquitatis eius' (1654) p.200
White, Newport B., 'Extents of Irish monastic possessions 1540-1541' ed.White, Newport B.(Dublin 1943) pp.151-152
Cork, OSI Grid:W4906542938
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