Abbeyknockmoy is a beautiful 12th century Cistercian abbey, located very near the little town of Abbey, Co. Galway. It's about a 40 minute drive from Galway City but is well worth the trip!
There is lots to see in the ruins of the abbey, with most of the nave, transept and presbytery all surviving. The large wall in front of the presbytery was erected in the 15th century when the church was too large for the declining local population.
The rest of the buildings on the site are the east and south ranges, which would have contained domestic areas such as the dormitory (up the stairs beside the presbytery) and administrative rooms, such as the chapter room.
The most interesting feature at Abbeyknockmoy is the medieval art, including stone sculpture and rare wall paintings. The carved head of the patron sits on top of one of the pillars on the right, when you enter the church. The wall paintings are in the room at the end of the church (presbytery) behind the barred doors. They are in a poor condition, having spent centuries exposed to the elements, before the roof and windows were added in the 1980s. Wall paintings are extremely rare in Ireland due to the weather - they are often painted on plaster, which is destroyed by the rain.
The abbey is a wonderful place to visit and explore. The nearby town has a number of pubs and a service station.
If you are travelling from Galway to Mayo or Sligo up the N17, Abbeyknockmoy is worth the detour!
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