Abbeyknockmoy is the site of an ancient Abbey whose remains still stand in glorious testament to the learned and powerful past of this small Galway community. Abbeyknockmoy was originally a Cistercian abbey founded in 1190 by the King of Connacht, Cathal Crobhdearg Ua Conchobair, in fulfilment of a vow made prior to a victory gained by Cathal against the English forces under Almeric de St. Lawrence. Cathal died a Cistercian monk and was buried there in 1224. The monastery was plundered by William de Burgo in 1200 and its ruins remain to full height and grandeur. It is said that the abbey was courtyard was he burial site for many locals who suffered and died in the Great Famine of 1840s Ireland.
I visit the area most years as a tourist.
For most of it's recent life Abbey - as it's called by the locals - life it has been the 'centre' for local 'townslands' or farming community consisting then of a few houses, its modern church -St Bernard’s and it's grocers and bars. It has grown recently with much new housing and is now thriving tho not quite a town yet. The 2 bars are Donoghue's where generations of the family - currently Sean Snr and Sean Jnr - have hosted many a night of celebration. It is a large warm, wood panelled modern bar on the site of the old shop/ bar which was common in countryside for many decades. It also has sports TV and pool room. Their shop is now part of the service station opposite and has a full range of supermarket products including hot food takeaways. A range of shops and another takeaway are nearby. The more traditional bar nearby is Mannions. Sadly the owner Frank and Mary have now passed away but the place still echoes to singing and the 'crac' from locals. There are a few nice B and Bs in the vicinity.
Abbeyknockmoy is roughly half way between the towns of Tuam and Athenry both with plenty of shops, pubs and Restaurants. Both are historic towns with ancient Celtic pasts, both towns also have religious significance and their important medieval history as can be seen by the castles, keeps and priories that survive to this day. The whole area is steeped in Irish History - Stone Age, Celtic, and Anglo-Norman - and Abbeyknockmoy Abbey itself is well worth a visit if you are in Galway or passing through the region. Monivea is a very pretty little town nearby also with bars and eateries - ask to see the French Mausoleum - a stunning funeral chapel which houses the remains of Robert Percy Ffrench and his daughter - it is hidden deep in the forest - very spooky!!!
For film buffs the old railway station and nearby Ballyglunnin was the setting for a scene in The Quiet Man - Directed by John Ford. With John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara, Barry Fitzgerald, Ward Bond.
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