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Abbeyknockmoy (Abbey)

also known as: Knockmoy

Order: Cistercian

Abbeyknockmoy was founded by Cathal Mór Crobderg Ua Conchobair (acc. 1189 d.1224), King of Connacht (NH ix). The Latin name for this site, Collis Victoriae, could suggest to a victory over the Anglo-Normans, but more probably refers to the King's thanksgiving, following an escape from drowning in Lough Ree in 1190. (Med. religious houses Ire., 124).

There is some evidence of an earlier Christian settlement on this site. Maigen (?), an early Christian Ecclesiastical settlement in the parish of Abbeyknockmoy. Field remains include an ecclesiastical site (excavated by Higgins), with a cashel wall, possibly the inner enclosure; a church ruin (medieval, on an early plinth); bullaun (incorporated into a later plinth c. 1200 and a graveyard. Artefacts from the site include quern fragments and a spindle-whorl. There is a suggestion that this site could be the ‘Maghce’ associated with St. Alban (Abbán), c. 650 AD , as mentioned in Archdall 1786, 294. (www.monasticon.celt.dias.ie, 2012)

The holy well of St. Bernard, the focus of popular devotional practices on 20th August, is described as being on the southern slopes of Knockroe Hill at Abbeyknockmoy (Peadar O'Dowd, 'Holy Wells of Galway City', Journal of the Galway Archaeological and Historical Society , Vol. 60, (2008), 136-153)

Limited archaeological excavations were carried out at Abbeyknockmoy in 1982 and 1983, revealing the foundation levels of a fifteenth-century cloister. The north and south transepts were investigated, and an isolated building to the north of the abbey was totally excavated. A plan of the abbey is given in P. David Sweetman's report on the excavations. (Sweetman, 'Archaeological Excavations at Abbeyknockmoy', Co. Galway, PRIA, Vol. 87C, (1987), 1-12)
This excavation is noted as 1980-84:0112, M508565

Karena Morton has described the surviving wallpaintings at Abbeyknockmoy, on the mural tomb of Maolsheachlainn Ó Ceallaigh (buried in the abbey in 1402), and that of his wife, Fionnuala (d. 1403), as 'a comprehensive scheme of paintings, although today only a fraction of the original survives. The western bay of the north wall was originally painted with the Crucifixion among other scenes - now totally perished. In the eastern bay the common morality tale of The Three Living and the Three Dead Kings is depicted in the upper register while the Martyrdom of St. Sebastian and a fragmentary image of the Trinity are depicted below. Two further inscriptions, this time painted in black Latin lettering, one beneath the Three Dead Kings identifies the subject of this scene as the warning spectres address to the kings and the second beneath St. Sebastian provides the names of two Irish men - perhaps the artists of the painting'. Morton gives the early fifteenth century as the period when the paintings were completed, a time when the Ó Ceallaigh patronage changed the nature of the church decoration. (Karena Morton, 'Illustrating history', Irish Arts Review, Vol. 27, No. 1 (SPRING (MARCH - MAY 2010)), 96-101. The paintings in the eastern bay are illustrated in Morton's article.
These paintings were conserved by Madeline Karkov and Christoph Oldenbourg using germicidal Ultra-violet irradiation for the elimination of microbiology on the wall paintings.

Several nineteenth- and early twentieth-century antiquarian drawings of the site are held in the RIA archive, including two by T.J. Westropp, and three from the Ordnance Survey programme of research. An OS drawing of O'Connor/Ua Conchobair's tomb depicts the wall-painting of Christ crucified as part of the tomb.
Moulding profiles for the tombs, windows and cloister from the O'Donovan collection are available online at www.gothicpast.com (http://gothicpast.com/items/browse?search=abbeyknockmoy&submit_search=Search)

Name of Foundation: Collis Victoriae, Mainistir Chnoc Muaidhe
Dedicated to: St. Mary
Affiliated to: Colonised by Boyle in 1190

Barony: Tiaquin/ Tigh Dachoinne and Clare/ Baile Chláir
Civil Parish: Abbeyknockmoy
Townland: Moyne ( An Mhaighean)

Main events in the history of this site

1190Foundation - Colonised by Boyle Abbey in 1190 (Med. religious houses, Ire.)  
c.1202 - The abbey was plundered by William de Burgo (Med. religious houses, Ire., 124) 
1224Burial - The founder of the monastery, Cathal Mór Crobderg Ua Conchobair, died in the habit of the Cistercian monks at Abbeyknockmoy. The abbey was also the burial place of many of his descendants, and other people of note. (Med. Religious houses, Ire., 124) 
1227 - Two French abbots, while making a visitation, were well received in the abbey. (Med. Religious houses, Ire., 124) 
1228 - Abbeyknockmoy was affiliated to Clairvaux following the troubles and the Conspiracy of Mellifont in 1228. (Lex) 
1240 - The abbot of Abbeyknockmoy was disgraced for allowing a woman to wash his head. (Med. Religious houses, Ire., 124) 
1267 - Brian, son of Tairdealbach and grandson of Ruaidri Ua Conchobair, died at Abbeyknockmoy in 1267. (DIB) 
1284, October 4 - Letters of simple protection in Ireland for 2 years for the Abbot and convent of Knockmoy [de Colle Victoriae] of the order of Cistercians. (CDI, 2 1252 – 1284, 543) 
1290, August 10 - Royal Assent to the election lately made in the cathedral church of Kilmacduagh of Brother Laurence, Abbot of Knockmoy [de Colle Victoriae], of the Cistercian order, as Bishop of Kilmacduagh. This is notified to William, Archbishop of Tuam, in order that he may do what is his in this behalf. (CDI, 3, 1285 – 1292, 347 – 8) 
1290, August 10 - The K. to the justiciary of Ireland. Having given the royal assent to the election lately made in the cathedral church of Kilmacduagh of Brother Laurence, Abbot of Knockmoy, as Bishop of Kilmacduagh, the K. desiring to spare him labour and expense commands the justiciary that if the election be canonically confirmed by the metropolitan he shall take fealty from the elect and restore the temporalities, having first received the elect letters sealed with his seal and that of his chapter that this grace shall not tend to the K.’s prejudice nor be converted into a precedent. (CDI, 3, 1285 – 1292, 348) 
1302 - 06 - The abbey was valued at £42 13s 6d, excepting a recovery. (Med. Religious houses, Ire., 124)  
1402Burial - 1402 - Maolsheachlainn Ó Ceallaigh was buried in a stone tomb at Abbeyknockmoy (DIB, Emmett O'Byrne, accessed 02/03/13) 
1410, 9 March - To the deans of Tuam and Elphin and the archdeacon of Tuam. Mandate to summon and remove the Cistercian abbot and convent of Knockmoy (Collis Victoriae) in the diocese of Tuam, who unduly detain the ecclesiastical benefice without cure called the rectory of Oudiarmada in the said diocese – not founded in any fixed church, whose rector receives yearly certain fruits etc. of a number of parish churches, and which has been so long void that there is no certain knowledge as to the mode of its voidance – and to collate and assign the same, value not exceeding 20 marks, to John Oraidechayn, clerk, of the same diocese; notwithstanding that the pope has recently ordered provision to be made to him of the perpetual benefice called the rectory of Munterfathaid in the same diocese, value not exceeding 10 marks. (CPL, 6, 1404 – 1415, 166) 
1411 - The abbot complained to the pope that the house was so poor that the monks could not be maintained properly, and licence was granted for one of them to serve a parish church. (Med. Religious houses, Ire., 124) 
1418, 6 December - . To the abbot of Knockmoy (Collis Victoris, sic) in the diocese of Tuam. Mandate to collate and assign to Philip Okrubain, priest, of the diocese of Tuam, the perpetual vicarage of Athnaryad in the said diocese, of the patronage of laymen, value not exceeding 12 marks, so long void by the death of Thomas Breamchyam that its collation has by the Lateran statutes lapsed to the apostolic see; notwithstanding that he receives a pension, canonically assigned to him, of 3 marks from the fruits etc. of the perpetual vicarage of Templenascreen (temple reliquiarum sancti Hyarlathei) [in the diocese of] Tuam, which pension shall cease upon his obtaining the above vicarage. (CPL, 7, 1417 – 1421, 112) 
1452 - 1456 - Abbot Malachy O’Kelly was accused of dilapidation (Med. Religious houses, Ire., 124) 
1455, 20 April - To the abbot of St. Mary’s, Knockmoy (Collis Victorie), in the diocese of Tuam. Decree etc., as below. Nicholas V on Kal. March anno 8 [1455] ordered a certain judge to collate and assign to Thomas de Anglo, then as now (etaim tune) a canon of Tuam, the prebend of Balla in the church of Tuam alias Mayo, value not exceeding 6 marks sterling, void by the death of Thydeus Ymurerchu, whether so void, or void by the resignation of Thomas Machelonyn, or in any other way. Inasmuch as the said pope died before his letters were drawn up, the pope hereby decrees that they shall hold good from the said date, and that these presents shall be sufficient proof of them; with mandate to the above abbot to make good the collation. (CPL, 11, 1455 – 1464, 209) 
1460, 15 June - To the abbot of Holy Trinity, Tuam (Taumen., recto Tuamen), and Thady Ohanly, a canon of Tuam (Tuamen). Mandate (the pope having been informed by Thady Oruadgri, a canon of Tuam (Taumen.), that William de Burgo, abbot of the Cistercian monastery of St. Mary, Knockmoy (Collis victorie) in the diocese of Tuam (Taumen), an open and notorious fornicator, has committed simony and, a dissolute vagabond, has neglected to reside in the said monastery, has dilapidated its goods and has committed other enormous crimes [not here expressed], if and after Thady, (who desires to enter the said monastery as a religious, and who was lately dispensed by papal authority, on account of illegitimacy as the son of a priest and an unmarried woman, to be promoted to all even holy orders, and hold a benefice even with cure) accuses William before the above two, to summon William and others concerned, and if they find the foregoing to be true, or one of them enough for the purpose, to deprive and remove William, and in that event to cause Thady to be received as a mink of the said monastery, value not exceeding 50 marks sterling; whether it become void by such deprivation, or void by the death of Cornelius Micadgayn or Malachy Ykearwall, monks of the said order, or of the said William or any other, or be void in any other way. They are further to grant that he may be blessed by any catholic bishop, and the pope grants him dispensation hereby to be appointed abbot and to rule the monastery in spirituals and temporals, notwithstanding the said defect etc. (CPL, 12, 1458 – 1471, 87 - 8) 
1462, 15 June - To the abbot of St. John the Evangelist’s, Tuam, and Dermit Maccassarlay and David Omullamma, canons of Tuam. Mandate as below. The pope having been informed by Eugenius Omurchu, a canon of Tuam, that (after the present pope had ordered the abbot of Knockmoy (Collis Victorie) in the diocese of Tuam, if an after Thomas de Angulo, a canon of Tuam, accused Jordan de Exonis, also a canon of Tuam, about divers crimes and excesses, which, as the pope had been informed by the said Thomas, Jordan had perpetrated, to summon Jordan, and if he found the information true, to deprive and remove him from his canonry of Tuam, and the prebend of Balla therein, and in that event to collate and assign them to Thomas) such accusation etc. did not take place, but that Jordan and Thomas divided the fruits etc. of the said canonry and prebend between them, each of them levying for his own use a part thereof. The pope therefore orders the above three, if and after Eugenius (who was lately dispensed by papal authority, on account of illegitimacy as the son of a priest and an unmarried woman, to be promoted to all, even holy orders and hold a benefice, even with cure) accuses Jordan and Thomas before them, to summon them, and if they find the foregoing to be true, to deprive Jordan of the canonry and prebend, and Thomas of all right in or to them, and to remove Jordan, and in that event to collate and assign them, value not exceeding 5 marks sterling, to Eugenius, whom the pope hereby dispenses to receive and retain them, notwithstanding the said defect. (CPL, 11, 1455 -1464, 473) 
1465, 16 November - To the archdeacon of Annaghdown and Thomas Obrayn, a canon of Tuam. Mandate, the pope having been informed by William de Burgo, clerk, of the diocese of Kilmacduagh (Duacen.) that Malachy Okeallaid, abbot of the Cistercian monastery of St. Mary Knockmoy (Collis victorie) in the diocese of Tuam, has publically kept a concubine and dilapidated and alienated etc. the goods of the monastery and committed simony, if and after William, who is of noble birth and in or about his twenty-third year, and desires to enter the said monastery, accuses Malachy, before them, to summon Malachy, and if they find the foregoing to be true, to deprive and remove him, and in that event to cause William to be received as a monk of the said monastery, and receive his profession, and thereafter, and if they find him fit, to make provision to him of the said monastery, value not exceeding 50 marks sterling, whether it become void by such deprivation, or be void by the successive deaths of Cornelius Mecagayn or Donald Ymurenyg, or Malachy Mecagayn or in any other way; and to grant that he may be blessed by any catholic bishop. He is hereby dispensed to be abbot and to rule the monastery, notwithstanding the said defect [of age] etc. (CPL, 11, 1455 – 1464, 264 – 265) 
c.1472 - To the dean and the archdeacon of Tuam, and John Ocolayn, a canon of the same. Mandate, the rectory of the rural lands of Walluocktarach in the diocese of Tuam, wont to be assigned to secular clerks as the title of a perpetual benefice, having been so long void that its collation has lapsed to the apostolic see, although John Okerani, priest of the said diocese, has detained it for between seven and eight years, without any canonical title, to summon the said John and collate and assign the said rectory, with cure and value 12 marks sterling, to Arthur Omalle, a monk of the monastery of St. Mary, Knockmoy, (Collis victorie) O. Cist, in the said diocese, who is a native of the said Walluocktarach, and who notwithstanding his illegitimacy, as the son of a monk professed of the said order, in priest’s orders, and an unmarried woman, related in the fourth degree of affinity, has been promoted to minor orders; the said John being removed. The pope here dispenses the said Arthur to receive and retain the said rectory, notwithstanding the said defect, etc., and notwithstanding that he has made his profession of the said order, etc. (CPL, 13.1, 1471 – 1475, 332) 
1473, 27 August - To the dean of Tuam. Mandate as below. The pope has been informed by Malachy Okellyd, clerk of the diocese of Tuam, that William de Burgo, abbot of St. Mary’s, Knockmoy (Collis Victorie), O. Cist., in the said diocese, does not reside there, nor exercise its cure, etc., in person, and that he has dissipated and dilapidated its goods, and converted them to unlawful uses. The pope, therefore, hereby orders the above dean, if Malachy (who, notwithstanding his illegitimacy, as the son of a clerk and an unmarried woman, has been made a clerk) will accuse William before him, to summon the latter, and if he find the foregoing to be true, to deprive and remove him, and if in that event to receive Malachy as a monk of the said monastery, give him the regular habit and receive his profession, and thereupon make provision to him of the said monastery, value 50 marks sterling. The pope hereby specially dispenses him on account of the said defect, and grants that he may be blessed by any catholic bishop in communion with the apostolic see. (CPL, 13.1, 1471 – 1475, 357- 358) 
1475, 11 May - 1475 – 11 May, To the archdeacon and the provost of Tuam, and Decanus Oleannayn, a canon of the same. Mandate to grant in commendam for life to Malachy Ykellyd, abbot of St. Mary’s, Knockmoy (Collis Victorie), O. Cist, in the diocese of Tuam (who was lately dispensed by papal authority on account of illegitimacy, as the son of a clerk and an unmarried woman, to be appointed to the said monastery, if provision thereof were made to him), the perpetual vicarage of the parish church of Mailacha in the said diocese, value 10 marks sterling, void by the death of John Omothlayn, although William Macbrismi, priest of the said diocese, who is to be summoned and removed, has detained possession of it for about ten years without any title or right. (CPL, 13.1, 1471 – 1475, 439) 
c.1483 - To Walter Blake, a canon of Annaghdown (Enachdunen.), and David Pyndragas and David Macglyn, canons of Tuam. Mandate, as below. The pope has learned that the rectory of Ryllereyn (recte Kyllere[r]yn alias Mynthirathi in the diocese of Tuam, of lay patronage, has been so long void that its collation has lapsed to the apostolic see, although David Omyri, clerk, has without any title detained possession for between four and five years; and the pope has been informed by Thomas de Burgo, a canon of Annaghdown, that John, also de Burgo, who by papal grant and dispensation holds in commendam the monastery of St. Mary, Knockmoy (Collis Victorie), O. Cist., in the said diocese, has taken part in secular affairs, caused the said monastery and its buildings to be set on fire by his accomplices, and done other things which have caused bloodshed. The pope, therefore, hereby orders the above three, if the said Thomas, who is by both parents of noble birth and is present in the Roman court, will accuse the said John before them, to summon the latter, and if they find the foregoing to be true, to deprive and remove him, and in that event, and if they find the said rectory to be void as above, to unite it to the said canonry and prebend, value 8 and 1 marks sterling, respectively, for the lifetime of the said Thomas, and moreover to grant to him in commendam for life the said monastery, value 50 marks sterling. (CPL, 13.1, 1471 – 1475, 159 – 160) 
1484 - Some possessions of the Abbey were transferred to the new college in Galway. (Med. Religious houses, Ire., 124) 
1542, 24 MayDissolution - Hugh O’Kelly, abbot in commendam, surrendered the abbey, and promised to help with men and arms, in return for a life grant of the property. (Med. Religious houses, Ire., 124) 
1557 - A form of secularised monasticism appears to have continued after the surrender, as O’Kelly, the abbot, and Nicholas Blake, the prior, were appointed to collect rents in 1557. (Med. Religious houses, Ire., 124) 
1566 - The property was let to Andrew Brereton for 21 years. (Med. Religious houses, Ire., 124) 
1568 - Some of the property, valued annually at £40, was granted to Nicholas FitzSymons. (Med. Religious houses, Ire., 124) 
1584 - 1584 – The possessions of the abbey included c.1260 acres, seven rectories, the island of Clare, etc., total val. £78 10s 0d.(Med. Religious houses, Ire., 124) 
+ 22 minor events. Show minor events

Bibliographical sources

13 Printed sources

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Archival sources

National Library of Ireland (Prints and Drawings), 'A Ground Plan of the Abbey of Knockmoy Co:y Galway', (Document), (View website)

Royal Irish Academy Prints and Drawings, 'Abbey Knockmoy, Co. Galway, from S[outh] E[ast]', (Document), (View website)

Royal Irish Academy Manuscripts, 'Article on the Annals of Knockmoy Abbey, Galway Vindicator, 1871', (Document), (View website)

Royal Irish Academy Prints and Drawings, 'Cistercian Abbey', (Document),

National Library of Ireland (Prints and Drawings), 'Drawing of Knockmoy Abbey, County Galway, Ireland. (Bigari)', (Document), (View website)

British Museum, 'Excerpts ex chartis monasterii de Knockmoy, alias de Colle Victoriae', (Document),

Royal Irish Academy Manuscripts, 'Holograph letter from A. Burke, Esker, Athenry, Co. Galway, to John O’Donovan.', (Document), (View website)

National Library of Ireland (Prints and Drawings), 'Inscription on the Monument in the Abbey of Knockmoy, Co.y Galway (Austin Cooper)', (Document), (View website)

National Library of Ireland (Prints and Drawings), 'Inscriptions on the Monument in the Abbey of Knockmoy, Co:y Galway (Austin Cooper)', (Document), (View website)

National Library of Ireland (Prints and Drawings), 'Inscriptions on the Monument in the Abbey of Knockmoy, Co:y Galway (Austin Cooper)', (Document), (View website)

Royal Irish Academy Manuscripts, 'Letters from Martin Haverty to John O’Donovan', (Document), (View website)

National Library of Ireland, 'Newscuttings on 'Annals of Knockmoy Abbey',', (Document), (View website)

Royal Irish Academy Prints and Drawings, 'OS Drawing Bridge and Abbey of Knockmoy', (Document),

Royal Irish Academy Prints and Drawings, 'OS Drawing Tomb of O'Connor at Knockmoy', (Document),

Royal Irish Academy Manuscripts, 'OS Letter to T.A. Larcom from John O'Donovan (Tuam area)', (Document), (View website)

National Library of Ireland (Prints and Drawings), 'The Monument &c in Knockmoy Abbey, Co.y Galway (Austin Cooper)', (Document), (View website)

National Library of Ireland (Prints and Drawings), 'The Monument unth. Fresco Painting in the Abbey of Knockmoy (Co.y Galway) of OConnor the Founder', (Document), (View website)

National Library of Ireland (Prints and Drawings), 'View from the south-west of the early thirteenth-century abbey of Knockmoy (Austin Cooper)', (Document), (View website)

National Library of Ireland (Prints and Drawings), 'View of the early thirteenth-century ruins of the Cistercian abbey of Knockmoy (Austin Cooper)', (Document), (View website)

Related articles on Monastic Ireland

Letter from Stephen of Lexington to the Abbot and Community of Knockmoy (Letter 43), Extract from Stephen of Lexington, Letters from Ireland 1228 - 1229 (translated and with an introduction by Barry W. O\'Dwyer), Cistercian Publications Inc., Kalamazoo, Michigan, 1982
Letter from Stephen of Lexington to the Abbot of Shrule (Letter 55), Extract from Stephen of Lexington, Letters from Ireland 1228 - 1229 (translated and with an introduction by Barry W. O\'Dwyer), Cistercian Publications Inc., Kalamazoo, Michigan, 1982
Letter from Stephen of Lexington to the Abbot ofSt. Mary\'s Abbey, Dublin (Letter 98), Extract from Stephen of Lexington, Letters from Ireland 1228 - 1229 (translated and with an introduction by Barry W. O\'Dwyer), Cistercian Publications Inc., Kalamazoo, Michigan, 1982
Letter from Stephen of Lexington to the Council of Abbots (Letter 22), Extract from Stephen of Lexington, Letters from Ireland 1228 - 1229 (translated and with an introduction by Barry W. O\'Dwyer), Cistercian Publications Inc., Kalamazoo, Michigan, 1982
Stephen of Lexington to the Abbot of Clairvaux (Letter 24), Extract from Stephen of Lexington, Letters from Ireland 1228 - 1229 (translated and with an introduction by Barry W. O\'Dwyer), Cistercian Publications Inc., Kalamazoo, Michigan, 1982

Images of this site

Abbeyknockmoy

Abbeyknockmoy, ruins

Abbeyknockmoy, sculpted head


Abbeyknockmoy, view of nave arcades

Abbeyknockmoy, view of the east end

Approaching Abbeyknockmoy

Abbeyknockmoy

Galway, OSI Grid:M5070543604