Heritage Site: Turlough Abbey near Castlebar, Co. Mayo

Turlough Abbey was founded by St. Patrick in 441 and was under the authority of the Archbishop of Armagh.

View of the church and round tower at Turlough, Co. Mayo.

Just 5km outside Castlebar, Co. Mayo to the north of the N5 Dublin road, on the road to Park and on the northern side of the Castlebar River is Turlough Abbey. Little is known of the history of the Abbey at Turlough. John O’Donovan writing in the Ordnance Survey letters thought that it had been founded by St. Patrick in 441 and was under the authority of the Archbishop of Armagh. A length of the original circular enclosure can be seen in the line of field boundary to the east of the site. In the ninth century an unusual low and squat round tower was constructed at the site. The tower is relatively low at 21m and wide with a rounded-headed doorway and four square-headed windows.

One of the crucifixion plaques at Turlough, Co. Mayo.

None of the early churches at the site survive and there is no documentary information on them. In 1302 the Abbey was valued for the ecclesiastical taxation of Ireland. The Abbey survived the initial dissolution of the monasteries and a crucifixion plaque dated 1625 is an example of counter-reformation iconography. The Abbey was finally dissolved and granted to Walter Burke by King Charles I in 1635. The site passed to the Fitzgeralds in 1653 and they were presumably responsible for the eighteenth century cruciform church with three round-headed windows in the chancel. Three crucifixion plaques have been built into the church. There is also a tomb of George Robert Fitzgerald dated 1786.

Google Maps image of the location of the Turlough, Co. Mayo.

GPS coordinates 53.888769, -9.208881

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