Cong Abbey

County Mayo

The evocatively weathered shell of Cong's 12th-century Augustinian abbey is scored by a cross-hatch of lines from centuries of exposure to the elements. Nevertheless, several finely sculpted features have survived, including a carved doorway, windows, lovely medieval arches and the ruined cloisters.

Founded in 1135 by Turlough Mór O'Connor, high king of Ireland and king of Connaught, the abbey occupies the site of an earlier 7th-century church that was destroyed in a fire; the 12th-century abbey was later attacked by the Norman knight William de Burgh and rebuilt in the early 13th century (it is these ruins you see today). The community once gathered in the chapter house to confess their sins publicly.

From the abbey, moss-encrusted trees guard a path to the river and the diminutive and roofless 16th-century monk's fishing house, built midway over the river (near the bridge).

Cross the bridge and all manner of rambling opportunities await in the forest.

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