Finglas Abbey

Finglas Abbey stands in ruins in the grounds of St Canice's Graveyard. The Abbey was built on the site of an ancient monastery, which was founded by St Canice in 560 A.D.

This video is designed as a resource for primary and post-primary students up to Junior Certificate.

Finglas Abbey

In the grounds of St Canice’s Graveyard stand the ruins of Finglas Abbey. The abbey was built on the site of an ancient monastery, which was founded by St Canice in 560 AD.

At that time, monasteries were very powerful. They were not just religious: they also took part in business and politics in Ireland. They were also centres of community, so the village of Finglas grew up around the monastery.

St Canice’s monastery was very important and, along with Tallaght, was known as the ‘Two Eyes of Ireland’ which kept Christianity strong.

But because of their wealth, monasteries were also prime targets for raiders. The Vikings attacked the monastery throughout the ninth and tenth centuries. The ruins of the church that can be seen today date from the tenth and twelfth centuries, long after the Viking raids had ended, so the abbey has probably been rebuilt.

After the Normans came to Ireland in the twelfth century, the monastery became the property of the Archbishop of Dublin and a big manor house was built in its grounds. Part of this manor house can still be seen today. It is known locally as ‘King William’s Ramparts’.

In the fifteenth century another mansion was built for the wife of the most senior politician in the country, the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. This mansion fell into ruin.

During the reign of Elizabeth I (1533-1603) Finglas Abbey became a Protestant church. It was used by the people of Finglas until 1843. Both Catholics and Protestants are buried in St Canice’s Graveyard. The earliest headstones date from Queen Elizabeth’s time.

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