The story of Ballintubber Abbey, County Mayo, began when in 441, St Patrick baptised the people at the Druidic Well and established a church here. There are remains of that early church in the graveyard and the Irish name, Baile Tobair Phádraig, means the townland of St Patrick’s Well.
Situated less than 2km east of the main Galway-Castlebar Road (N84), north of Ballinrobe, the Abbey is still in daily use. Here unfolds a story of endeavour, architectural excellence, perseverance against the odds and worship. Now tastefully restored, it has a dual role as a national monument and a rural parish church which has become a Christian centre for prayer and retreats.
Partially burned in 1265 and rebuilt in 1270, the Abbey flourished and became rich and powerful, accumulating a lot of land locally. It was connected with local kings and chieftains. In 1603 their lands were confiscated and in 1635 the Augustinian Friars took over the Abbey. In 1653 Cromwellian soldiers attacked the Abbey and burned it.
The Abbey became associated with an influential Norman family, the de Burgos of Mayo, and several members were interred in the Abbey including the elaborately carved tomb of Sir Theobald de Burgo (Tiobóid na Long) who was murdered nearby.
The Abbey and the beautifully landscaped grounds and its faith filled stories provide rich symbols and resources of our Christian heritage. This enables visitors to engage in quiet time, prayer and contemplation. Retreats are offered to adults, second level students and confirmation students in this setting.
During Holy Week each year the Passion Play is performed on the grounds of Ballintubber Abbey. Included in the environs of the Abbey is Tóchar Phádraig and Church Island.
From Ballintubber Abbey, stretching out to Croagh Patrick, is Tóchar Phádraig, the ancient pilgrim path. Every year hundreds of pilgrims walk this 35km path.
Church Island on the shores of Lough Carra is a place of prayer and contemplation and dates back to the 6th century. The early church there has been restored for retreats and quiet days of contemplation.
Take a guided tour in the Celtic Furrow Museum, located on the grounds of the Abbey, and learn about local history and Irish culture.