Monastic Ireland.

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also known as: White Monks

The Cistercian Order had its origins in the marshy forests of Cîteaux, south of Dijon, and became one of the most important of the new religious orders to emerge from the eleventh-century reform movement. The movement was instigated by Abbot Robert of the Benedictine house at Molesme, who left his monastery seeking a simple and more austere way of life. He was joined by several like-minded companions. Robert was compelled to return to Molesme and uphold his duties as abbot but the others remained, attracted additional devotees and subsequently formed the first Cistercian community at Cîteaux. But it was the arrival of Bernard of Clairvaux c. 1112 which transformed the Cistercian Order into a truly international one that dominated Europe. The Cistercians arrived in Wales in 1131 and founded Tintern Abbey, Monmouthshire. This was the second Cistercian foundation in Britain.
The Cistercians, also known as the 'White Monks', on account of the distinctive colour of their habits, were driven by a desire for simplicity. They sought to return to the basic precepts of the Rule of St Benedict and made manual labour once more an integral part of their day. Each abbey had a community of lay-brothers (conversi) in addition to a community of monks, who helped make the house a self-sufficient unit. The abbeys were joined in a familial relationship connected through bonds of unity and uniformity of practice. Each house was visited annually to make sure that standards were maintained, and all abbots were required to attend the annual General Chapter at Cîteaux.

Sites associated with this order


Abbeydorney Abbey, Kerry

Abbeyknockmoy Abbey, Galway

Abbeymahon Abbey, Cork

Abington Abbey, Limerick

Assaroe Abbey, Donegal

Baltinglass Abbey, Wicklow

Boyle Abbey, Roscommon

Corcomroe Abbey,

Dunbrody Abbey, Wexford

Fermoy Abbey, Cork

Ferrybank Abbey,

Graiguenamanagh Abbey, Kilkenny

Holycross Abbey, Tipperary

Hore Abbey,

Inishlounaght Abbey, Tipperary

Jerpoint Abbey, Kilkenny

Kilcooly Abbey, Tipperary

Mellifont Abbey, Louth

Midleton Abbey, Cork

Monasterevin Abbey, Kildare

Monasternenagh Abbey, Limerick

St. Mary's Dublin Abbey, Dublin

Tintern Abbey, Wexford

Tracton Abbey, Cork

Bibliographical sources

Cistercian sites

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2 Abbeydorney Kerry (Abbey)
3 Abbeyknockmoy Galway (Abbey)
4 Abbeymahon Cork (Abbey)
5 Abington Limerick (Abbey)
6 Assaroe Donegal (Abbey)
7 Baltinglass Wicklow (Abbey)
8 Boyle Roscommon (Abbey)
9 Corcomroe (Abbey)
10 Dunbrody Wexford (Abbey)
11 Fermoy Cork (Abbey)
12 Ferrybank (Abbey)
13 Graiguenamanagh Kilkenny (Abbey)
14 Holycross Tipperary (Abbey)
15 Hore (Abbey)
16 Inishlounaght Tipperary (Abbey)
17 Jerpoint Kilkenny (Abbey)
18 Kilcooly Tipperary (Abbey)
19 Mellifont Louth (Abbey)
20 Midleton Cork (Abbey)
21 Monasterevin Kildare (Abbey)
22 Monasternenagh Limerick (Abbey)
23 St. Mary\'s Dublin Dublin (Abbey)
24 Tintern Wexford (Abbey)
25 Tracton Cork (Abbey)