Mount Melleray Abbey

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Mount Melleray Abbey (geograph 3381465)

Mount Melleray Abbey is a Cistercian Trappist monastery in Ireland, founded in 1833. It is situated on the slopes of the Knockmealdown Mountains, near Cappoquin, Diocese of Waterford. It is famous in literature due to Seán Ó Ríordáin's poem Cnoc Mellerí in Eireaball Spideoige (1952).[1] Furthermore, renowned Irish author James Joyce mentions Mount Melleray in the final short story of his 1914 collection, Dubliners. In this story, entitled, "The Dead," the monks of Mount Melleray are noted for their exceptional hospitality and piety.[2]


Father Vincent Ryan was chosen leader of the religious sent by Dom Antoine, Abbot of Melleray, for this foundation. After many efforts to locate his community he accepted the offer of Sir Richard Keane, of Cappoquin, to rent a tract of barren mountain waste, some five hundred acres, subsequently increased to seven hundred. In the work of reclaiming the soil, they were assisted by the country folk.

In 1833 the cornerstone was laid by Sir Richard Keane, in the presence of the bishop and a large concourse of clergy and people. In 1835 the monastery was created an abbey, and Father Vincent, unanimously elected, received the abbatial blessing from Dr. Abraham, bishop of the diocese, this being the first abbatial blessing in Ireland since the Protestant Reformation. Abbot Vincent vigorously undertook the work of completing the abbey, but died 9 December 1845.

His successor, Dom M. Joseph Ryan, resigned after two years. To Dom Bruno Fitzpatrick, who succeeded as abbot in September, 1848, it remained to consolidate. He devoted his energy to missionary work (see below). Building resumed in the late 1920s when Dom Marius O'Phelan bought the great cut limestone blocks from Mitchelstown Castle (28 miles west), which had been burnt by the local IRA on 12 August 1922. In 1925, the owners of Michelstown castle dismantled the ruins and the stones were transported from Mitchelstown by steam lorry, two consignments a day for at least five years. As the Abbey was being laid out, Dom Marius died and his successor, Dom Celsus O'Connell, continued to monumental task. He opted for a more prominent site directly over the mortal remains of 180 of his fellow Cistercians. The monks ended up with far more stones than they needed and these were eventually stacked in fields around the monastery.

In 1849, Dom Bruno Fitzpatrick, who had become abbot the previous year founded New Melleray Abbey, near Dubuque, Iowa, U.S.A., and, in 1878, Mount Saint Joseph Abbey, Roscrea, Co. Tipperary, Ireland. He also founded the Ecclesiastical Seminary of Mount Melleray. Originating in a small school formed by Abbot Vincent in 1843, it was developed by Abbot Bruno and his successors. Abbot Bruno died 4 December 1893, and was succeeded by Dom Carthage Delaney, who was blessed 15 January 1894, and presided over Mount Melleray for thirteen years; his successor was Dom Marius O'Phelan, solemnly blessed by Dr. Sheahan, Bishop of Waterford, 15 August 1908. Dom O'Phelan is credited with resuming the building programme at Mount Melleray in 1925.

In 1954 six monks (eight more in 1955) went to found a small Cistercian abbey in a remote, rural area of New Zealand: The Southern Star Abbey.[3]

More modern History: Dom Eamon Fitzgerald, abbot of Mount Melleray, was elected abbot general of the order in September 2008.

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External links[edit]

Reference List[edit]

  1. ^ 'Art in the form of Artefact'
  2. ^
  3. ^ Matthews, Richard (1995) James K. Baxter and Kopua, Journal of New Zealand Literature: JNZL, No. 13, pp. 257-265

Coordinates: 52°11′15″N 7°51′27″W / 52.18750°N 7.85750°W / 52.18750; -7.85750