Thursday, 11 July 2019
This fine Cistercian abbey was founded as a result of a storm at sea. The recorded facts are that the then Earl of Pembroke, William Marshall on gaining the title of Lord of Leinster was returning by ship to Ireland when it was caught up in a severe storm, The Earl fearful of losing his life vowed that if he made it safely to land he would found a monastery at his landing point to provide sanctuary for any future travellers who found themselves in trouble, The ship managed to land in Bannow bay and true to his word he established a fine monastery for the Cistercian order in 1200AD on land near the bay. The Earl named the abbey Tintern after the one he was patron to in Wales but to distinguish the two he called the Welsh abbey Tintern Major and the newly established one Tintern De Voto (Tintern of the vow).
A number of monks from Wales were transferred to Ireland to inhabit the new abbey. The abbey remained in use until the dissolution in 1536 when Henry VIII then granted the lands to Anthony Colclough, The Colclough's made renovations to the abbey over the years and in the 1790's turned the huge tower into a residence. This became the Colclough family home until its last resident Lucy Marie Biddulph Colclough turned the estate over to the Irish Government in 1959 and it has been in state care ever since.
When we visited we were really impressed by the huge cruciform shape of the ruins. It is certainly a very imposing edifice. The large South arched window has been renovated and now it stares out over the estate like a huge glass eye. Unfortunately on our visit there had been a recent damaging event and so access to the interior was temporarily prohibited, But this did not deter us from viewing the entire exterior and the attractive grounds. Access is now again possible and you can view the ruins of the nave, chancel, chapel, tower and part of the cloister.
The abbey's opening times are April 2nd to October 28th from 10am to 5pm. Admission to the interior is 4 Euro per adult, 3 Euro for seniors, 2 Euro per child or 10 Euro per family. A guided tour is available.
To find the ruins take the R733 Westwards from Wellington Bridge. After approx 6KM you will see a left hand turn onto the L4041 signposted for the Ring of Hook, Turn left onto the L4041 and after approx 1KM you will see the gates for Tintern abbey on your right. There is ample parking at the end of the drive at the abbey.