Muckross Abbey

Margaret Anne Cusack
start of chapter | Chapter XX

In the county Kerry there were at least two convents of the Order—one at Ardfert, founded, probably, in the year 1389; the other, famous for the beauty of its ruins, and proximity to the far-famed Lakes of Killarney, demands a longer notice.

The Convent of Irrelagh, or, as it is now called, Muckross, was founded early in the fifteenth century, by a prince of the famous family of MacCarthy More, known afterwards as Tadeige Manistireach, or Teigue of the Monastery.

According to the tradition of the county, and a MS. description of Kerry, written about the year 1750, and now preserved in the Library of the Royal Irish Academy, the site on which the monastery was to be built was pointed out to MacCarthy More in a vision, which warned him not to erect his monastery in any situation except at a place called Carrig-an-Ceoil, i.e., the rock of the music.

As no such place was known to him, he despatched some of his faithful followers to ascertain in what part of his principality it was situated. For some time they inquired in vain ;but as they returned home in despair, the most exquisite music was heard to issue from a rock at Irrelagh. When the chief was made aware of this, he at once concluded it was the spot destined by Providence for his pious undertaking, which he immediately commenced.

It was finished by his son, Donnell (1440). The convent was dedicated to the Blessed Trinity. It is said there was a miraculous image of the Blessed Virgin here, which brought great crowds of pilgrims. The feast of the Porziuncula was kept here long after the abbey had fallen to ruins, and the friars dispersed, and was known as the Abbey Day. Until the last few years stations were held there regularly, on the 2nd of October.

Clonmel Monastery was founded, about 1269, by the Desmonds; Drogheda, in 1240, by the Plunkets.