Mayo abbey founded by a Saint and a King

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The history of Ballintubber dates back to pre-Christian times; people came from the east through Ballintubber on their way to the holy mountain on the west coast now called Croagh Patrick.

When St Patrick brought Christianity to Ireland around 441AD, he founded a church at Ballintubber.

The present Abbey was founded in 1216 by King Cathal O'Connor. Ballintubber Abbey is the only church in Ireland still in daily use that was founded by an Irish king.

The abbey has several outdoor attractions, including

  • a very modern abstract Way of the Cross,
  • an underground permanent Crib,
  • a Rosary Way,
  • a small museum.

According to the Ballintubber website, Seán na Sagart, the infamous priest-hunter, is buried in the cemetery. A large tree marks the spot.

The abbey marks the beginning of Tochar Phádraig, the ancient pilgrimage route to Croagh Patrick, long defunct but now reopened as a cross-country pilgrimage and tourist trail. Go to the abbey’s website for further details and directions.

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