In 623 St Feichin came to Cong and founded a monastery, from then Cong was called Cunga Feichin, Feichin’s neck. Cong Abbey was erected on the site of the monastery by Turlough O’ Connor, the King of Connaught in 1106. It was established as a learning centre and no less than 3000 students are said to have received their education there. Rory O’ Connor, the last High King of Ireland spent his last twelve years in seclusion in the abbey and on his death he was buried at the abbey but was later exhumed and buried with his father Turlough O’ Connor at Clonmacnoise.
Sir Benjamin Guinness the owner of Ashford Castle began to rebuild the abbey in 1860. The Foys from Cong who were renowned for their expertise with stonework completed the masonry. There are three beautiful carved doorways, which illustrate some of the Foys most outstanding work. The Gothic doorway consists of columns, brilliantly carved capitals and gothic arches; it is probably the Abbey’s finest feature.
Part of the Abbey grounds have been used as the parish burial grounds and one of the earliest inscribed gravestones is a tombstone which lies in the nave of the church on the way into the Abbey. The inscription reads “pray for the soul of James Lynch, Abbot of Conge, who died AD 1709.
By Bernie O'Malley