Inch Abbey, County Down

From The Illustrated Dublin Journal, Volume 1, Number 20, January 18, 1862

THE Abbey of Inch, of the original church of which the above illustration affords a good idea, was erected towards the latter part of the twelfth century on the island or peninsula of Inniscourcey, on the lough of Strangford, county Down, by Sir John de Courcey. Though at present a very dilapidated ruin, enough remains to show that it was originally an abbey of great importance and architectural beauty. It was in the usual form of a cross, and had a lofty belfry on the south side. Of the latter there are at present no remains, except of an arch on which it stood, which appears to have been of very elegant construction; and of the church itself there is little to he seen except the east end, or chancel, which has three noble latticed windows, upwards of twenty feet in height, in its east wall; and two windows of similar form, and nearly equal grandeur, in each of the side walls.

The circumstances connected with the foundation of this monastery are characteristic of the spirit of the age. Sir John de Courcey, having, in his struggles for conquest with the native princes in this district, found it necessary to demolish a Benedictine abbey, called Erynagh, or Carrig, which, from the strength of its position, had been converted into a garrison, and did him much mischief, he founded this Abbey of Inch in atonement for his sacrilege, and endowed it with all the lands of the extinguished house. The late Dr. O'Donovan, the most able and judicious Irish scholar and topographer which Ireland has produced for the last century, in his notes to the foundation charter of Newry, shows that the original name of this island now corruptly tailed Inniscourcey, was Inniscumhscraigh, pronounced Inniscooscry.