Glenstal Abbey

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Glenstal Abbey
Mainistir Ghleann Stáil
Monastery information
DioceseCashel and Emly
Important associated figuresBrendan Coffey, abbot
StyleNorman Revivalist
LocationMurroe, County Limerick
Coordinates52°39′42″N 8°23′17″W / 52.66167°N 8.38806°W / 52.66167; -8.38806Coordinates: 52°39′42″N 8°23′17″W / 52.66167°N 8.38806°W / 52.66167; -8.38806
Public accessYes

Glenstal Abbey is a Benedictine monastery of the Congregation of the Annunciation located in Murroe, County Limerick, Ireland. It is dedicated to Saint Joseph and Saint Columba. The current abbot of the monastery is Brendan Coffey.[1]


The abbey is located in and beside Glenstal Castle, a Normanesque castle built by the Barrington family.[2] The transfer from the Barrington family to the Benedictine order did not go smoothly due to unforeseen circumstances. In 1925, it was James Ryan, a wealthy priest who actually bought the place from the family. The abbey came into being in 1927 when the chapter of the Abbey of Maredsous in Belgium accepted the offer of Ryan to donate the estate when the Benedictines would open a monastery there. Later that year a superior, Fr. Bernard O’Dea, was appointed and the founding monks chosen. They arrived in Glenstal Abbey in May 1927.[3]

As many other religious organisations, Glenstal Abbey too was faced with allegations of child abuse. Since 1975 ten accusations against six monks were filed. In a 2014-report The National Board for Safeguarding Children (NBSC) stated that the Benedictine community handled these accusations well with proper action, including removal from monastic life and treatment.[4]

The abbey released commercial Gregorian chant albums in the late 1990s as The Monks of Glenstal Abbey, also contributing to the multi-platinum-selling Faith of our Fathers in 1996.[5]


The picturesque grounds include lakes, forests and an old walled, terraced garden which features a "bible garden". From 1986 Dr. Brian P. Murphy osb, worked with volunteers, restoring the gardens,[6] he also published a book in 2004 on the history of Glenstal Abbey Gardens. [7] The monastery runs an all-boys boarding secondary school on its grounds, Glenstal Abbey School, home to approximately two hundred students. It also runs a 250 acre dairy farm.[8]

Abbots / Priors[edit]

Currently Abbots are elected for an eight-year period. Before 1957, the superior had the title of prior. From 1927 until 1945 the prior was appointed by the parent abbey Maredsous in Belgium.

  • Prior Bede Lebbe OSB (to 1938)
  • Prior Idesbald Ryelandt OSB (1938–1945)
  • Prior Bernard O’Dea OSB (1945–1952)
  • Prior Placid Murray OSB DD (1952–1957)
  • Abbot Joseph Dowdall OSB (1957–1966)
  • Abbot Agustine O'Sullivan OSB (1966–1980)
  • Abbot Celestine Cullen OSB (1980–1992)
  • Abbot Christopher Dillon OSB (1992–2008)
  • Abbot Mark Patrick Hederman OSB (2008–2016)
  • Abbot Brendan Coffey OSB (2016–)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Glenstal Abbey elects new abbot -". 15 August 2016. Retrieved 28 March 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ "House: Glenstal". Retrieved 28 March 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ "The Irish Benedictines: A history -". 30 November 1999. Retrieved 28 March 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ "Ten abuse allegations made against six Glenstal monks". Retrieved 28 March 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^
  6. ^ Fr Brians work in Glenstal Gardens Clare Champion, July 29, 2014.
  7. ^ Review of Glenstal Abbey gardens by Brian P. Murphy OSB Book Reviews, Issue 5, September-October, History Ireland.
  8. ^ "Development work will ring the changes at Glenstal Abbey farm - Agriland". 11 November 2017. Retrieved 28 March 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

External links[edit]