Movilla Abbey

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Coordinates: 54°35′35″N 5°41′20″W / 54.593°N 5.689°W / 54.593; -5.689

Movilla Abbey, Newtownards - - 84296.jpg

Movilla Abbey (Irish: Mainistir Mhaigh Bhile "Monastery of the Plain of the Notable Tree") in Newtownards, County Down, Northern Ireland, is believed to have been one of Ulster's most important monasteries and was founded by St. Finian in 540 AD.


There was a school on the site in 543 AD (St. Finian's) which was attended by St. Columba. The Abbey was plundered by Vikings in 824 AD and refounded in the 12th century by Augustinian Canons.[1]

It may occupy the centre of a pre-Christian cult associated with a great tree. By the time it was attacked and burned by the Vikings in 825 it had grown considerably in size and had extensive craft workshops creating a wide range of bronze, glass and other products. In 1135 Saint Malachy of Armagh introduced the Augustinian Canons.

The graveyard contains many old (including one pre-Norman) graves, as well as the more modern ones including that of Colonel Paddy Mayne and of Ottilie Paterson (Barber) the Jazz and Blues singer most noted for her performances with the Chris Barber Band in the 1950s and '60s. Ottilie was born in nearby Comber.

Movilla Abbey, church of Augustinian Canons, is a State Care Historic Monument in the townland of Movilla, in Borough of Ards, at grid ref: J5035 7440.[2]

Annalistic references[edit]

See Annals of Inisfallen

  • AI824.1 Bissextile. Kl. Mag Bile and Bennchor plundered by the heathens.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Movilla Abbey". Ros Davies' Co. Down, Northern Ireland Genealogy Research Site. 
  2. ^ "Movilla Abbey" (PDF). Environment and Heritage Service NI - State Care Historic Monuments. Retrieved 2007-12-04. 

External links[edit]