By Sarah Mac Donald - 10 January, 2016
Ballintubber Abbey in Co Mayo has launched it celebrations to mark the 800th anniversary of its foundation in 1216.
On Thursday 7 January, historian Bro Colmáin Ó Clabaigh OSB of Glenstal Abbey opened the Abbey’s Octocentenary celebrations with a lecture on the foundation of the Abbey titled ‘Why should anyone want to build an Abbey in Ballintubber in 1216AD?’
It is the first of four lectures due to take place this year and one of a number of events planned as part of the celebrations.
The other lectures are ‘The Abbey in the time of Cromwell’ given by Professor John Cunningham of Trinity College Dublin; ‘The Abbey in the time of Tiobóid na Long’ given by Dr Anne Chambers; and ‘Before the Abbey…..Monasteries along the Tóchar and in the West’ given by Dr Edel Bhreathnach.
A special Mass commemorating the 800th celebrations has been commissioned by Ballintubber Abbey Trust and is being composed by Fr Liam Lawton.
Events in the Abbey, Church Island, the Celtic Furrow, Tóchar Phádraig, and the activities in the community itself will include activities by the GAA to music and dancing in the Sciobol.
There will be a Gathering during the last week in July and first week in August and an invitation is being sent out to people from Ballintubber who are living overseas to come home and celebrate the event.
Founded in 1216 by Cathal Crovderg O’Connor, Ballintubber Abbey is one of the most important sacred Irish historical sites.
Despite being suppressed and damaged during the Reformation, the roofless abbey continued to be used throughout penal times by Catholics.
In 1966, the nave was restored and re-roofed in time for the 750th anniversary of the abbey’s foundation.
In 1997, the Chapter House and Dorter area were restored and re-roofed.
The east wing is being restored as part of the 800th year celebrations.
The abbey has several modern outdoor attractions, including a very modern abstract Way of the Cross, an underground permanent Crib, and a Rosary Way. There is a small museum.
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.