School: Shelbaggan Convent

Shelbaggan, Co. Wexford
An tSr M. Breandán

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Dunbrody Abbey

Archival Reference

The Schools’ Collection, Volume 0874, Page 001C

Image and data © National Folklore Collection, UCD. See copyright details »

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One of the finest secimens of early
English architecture in Ireland is
Dunbrody Abbey, situated about one mile from Campile, where it is proposed to hold a bazaar in aid of a local Campile village hall, next June (see advertisement). The abbey is truly a venerable pile of ecclesiastical ruins, lovely in its desolation, still exhibiting that majestic strength and architectural grandeur which characterises the monastic ruins of the early English invaders.

It was founded in 1182 A.D. by Hervey De Montmorency, uncle of Strongbow. Hervey had acquired vast tracts of confiscated, fertile lands from King Henry 2nd after the defeat of the Irish forces at Dundonalf, which historians indentify with Bag-an-Bun in the Parish of Hook or Templetown. This defeat gave rise to the old couplet in English:
At the head of Bag-an'-Bun
Ireland was lost and won.
In this brief notice it can only be remarked that the men of Decies and Wexford and the O'Ryan county (Idrone) suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of the English knights in armour with their archers and men at arms. Seventy prisoners of war were also taken, and a council held to decide the fate of the 70 Irishmen.
At this council Raymond took the humane view, advocating the release of brave, vanquished opponents, but Hervey, filled with the spirit of "frightfulness," carried the majority with him, dooming the 70 unfortunate Wexford and Waterford men to an ignominious death. A female fiend in human form named Alice of Abergavney was the executioner.
Some accounts say she beheaded them, and cast the bodies into the sea; another states that their limbs were broken, and then they were tossed over the cliff to drown, but, it is certain that the first act of British brutality in Ireland was enacted on the head of Bag-an'-Bun.
As years rolled by Hervey felt remorse for his foul crime. He made a grant of vast tracts of land in the Barony of Shelbourne, which he acquired from the king, to the Cistercian Monks of Buildwas in Shropshire, as a peace offering to God, enjoining that the monks should found a Cistercian Abbey at Dunbrody.
These lands De Montmorency gave
To Buildwas shrine his soul to save.
After some years Hervey entered the monastery as a monk with the consent of his wife, and died Abbot of Dunbrody at the age of 75 years.

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