The ruins of Mellifont Abbey in County Louth are rich in Irish Christian history.
Founded in 1142 by Saint Malachy, Archbishop of Armagh, it was the first Cistercian monastery in Ireland – built in the formal style of French Cistercian abbeys.
At its peak, it had one hundred monks and three hundred lay brothers.
It survived for more than four centuries before being shut down by King Henry VIII who in 1539 announced the suppression of all monasteries in his realm.
Another foreign monarch, William of Orange, used Mellifont as his headquarters during the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.
The most notable surviving feature of Mellifont Abbey today is the 13th Century lavabo where the monks washed their hands before eating.
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