Boyle Abbey Highlights (5)
Hear all about Boyle Abbey’s colourful past on a guided tour. Learn how it became one of the most important foundations in Connacht. Find out about the onslaughts of its history – from invasions by Richard de Burgo and Maurice FitzGerald in the thirteenth century to occupation by Cromwell’s forces in 1659 – and how the abbey managed to withstand them.
If you’re interested in architecture, you will be in your element at Boyle Abbey. Take note of the arches made in the unusual transitional style, which flourished as Romanesque architecture gradually gave way to Gothic. These arches belong to the School of the West, a distinctive thirteenth-century architectural movement, examples of which are mostly found west of the Shannon. Admire some fine examples of the work of the Ballintubber Master, an unknown craftsperson of the utmost skill.
See if you can find the enigmatic Sheela-na-gig. There are two possible examples at Boyle Abbey – one in the left-hand corner as you enter into the building, the other, defaced, further along the nave. Can you decipher the purpose of these mysterious carvings? Do they represent older, more primitive deities? Are they fertility talismans? Guardians against evil? Or simply religious warnings against the sins of the flesh?
Witness the skill and delicacy of the modern architects and craftspeople who have restored Boyle Abbey. Learn how the north wall was painstakingly dismantled and rebuilt by a team of experts. This magnificent modern intervention will ensure the integrity of the structure for years – perhaps centuries – to come.
Just a stone’s throw from the church you can admire Abbeytown Bridge, one of the oldest surviving stone bridges in Ireland. While you’re in the picturesque town of Boyle, why not also visit King House, an early Georgian mansion located in the centre of the town? Or the beautiful Lough Key Forest Park? You’ll be amazed at how much this small but perfectly formed town has to offer.