Activities in Ballintubber in Co. Mayo

Things to do in Ballintubber

  • Stroll in the grounds of the Abbey or pray inside its hallowed walls

  • Trace the roots of our culture at the Celtic Furrow interpretive centre

  • A short boat trip to the recently restored Church Island

  • Guided walks of Tochar Phadraig, the ancient pilgrim path to Croagh Patrick

  • Boating & fishing on nearby Lough Carra

  • Visit the historic Doon Nature Peninsula on Lough Carra

Ballintubber Abbey

When St Patrick brought Christianity to Ireland in 441 AD, he founded a small church close to the present church at Ballintubber.

According to the "Annals of the Four Masters" , the present Abbey was founded in 1216 by King Cathal Crovderg O Connor, King of Connaught (known as Cathal of the Wine Red Hand). It was built for the Canon Regulars of St Augustine and dedicated to the Holy Trinity.

It is the only church in Ireland still in daily use that was founded by an Irish king and has remained a place of worship despite years of continuous attacks and religious repression.

The Abbey was suppressed by Henry VIII following his regal edicts in 1524 and in 1603 its lands were confiscated by James I.

In 1653 the Cromwellian Army burned the monastic site down. Many ancillary buildings were destroyed, only the abbey church survived. Despite the burning, the religious carried on their lives at the Abbey, but they had a precarious existence. Nearby, at Castleburke, 85 Cromwellian soldiers, under Captain Solomon Camby, had their station and tried very likely to capture the monks to claim the large rewards from the state.

In 1658 the Archbishop of Tuam reported his clergy had to hide in woods, mountains and caves at daytime. At Partry, Richard Burke and many Catholic locals helped the religious offering them support.

Bullintubber was an important place of burial for Protestants and Catholics alike.

Tibbott-ne-Long, the youngest son of the Pirate Queen and First Lord Viscount Mayo,  had been buried here in 1629 together with many members of his family.

His son Theobald, the Second Viscount, was buried here in 1649 and his wife, in her will, asked to be buried at the Abbey beside her husband.

Then the Abbey suffered the effects of the Penal Laws in the 18th Century, but despite that, it survived and is known as "the Abbey that refused to die”.

Two centuries later the Abbey was a ruin and roofless. When the Great Famine was finally over, a large number of benefactors offered their help to reroof the nave and transepts of the cruciform shaped abbey including Rev E D Cleaver, a clergyman of the Church of Ireland, who offered £2.

The nave was again reroofed for the 750th anniversary in 1966, while the Chapter House and Dorter Room were restored in 1997 under the baton of Fr Frank Fahey.

Ballintubber retains an air of ancient beauty and spirituality and has been restored with simple elegance. Pilgrims set out from the Abbey on the ancient pilgrim route, Tochar Phadraig, and journey some 35 km to Croagh Patrick.

Ballintubber Abbey Retreat Experience For Young People

Tochar Phadraig

Visit the Ballintubber Abbey Website