Bective Abbey , Co. Meath
Bective Abbey is a beautiful example of medieval Cistercian architecture and well worth a visit on any Ireland tours. Set in idyllic surroundings by an old bridge over a river , the abbey was once a considerable power in the land , and its abbot held a peer’s seat in the English Parliament – one of only 15 granted to the whole of the Pale. At this time the Church as a whole owned as much as a third of the county of Meath.
The buildings you will see now on tours of Ireland date from a variety of different periods , sometimes bewilderingly so , but its basics are clearly identifiable.
Of the original abbey , founded in 1146 by Murcha O Maelechlainn, King of Meath , nothing at all survives. In the late 12th century , the abbey was completely rebuilt , perhaps in time to accept the disinterred body of Hugh de Lacy in 1195. Of this second abbey you can still see the chapter house with its central column , part of the West range and fragments of the cruciform church. In the 15th century , this church was shortened on the West side, and a new , smaller cloister erected , of which the South and West sides remain. The tower at the entrance over the porch is an excellent shape , and you can also see the layout of the fortified mansion that was built after the abbey’s dissolution in 1543.
A bit of a hidden gem on any Ireland tours.