Grey Abbey, Portaferry

#2 of 7 in Things to do in Portaferry
Grey Abbey is a ruined Cistercian priory in the village of Greyabbey, County Down, Northern Ireland, currently maintained by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency. It is a monument in state care in the townland of Rosemount, beside the Rosemount estate, on the eastern edge of the village of Greyabbey in the Ards and North Down local government district, at grid ref: J5829 6810.HistoryGrey Abbey was founded in 1193, by John de Courcy's wife, Affreca (daughter of Godred Olafsson, King of the Isles), as a daughter house of Holmcultram Abbey in Cumbria. It had declined by the late Middle Ages and was dissolved in 1541. It was burnt out by Brian O'Neill in 1572. It was granted to Sir Hugh Montgomery who re-roofed the abbey in 1626 and refurbished it for use as a parish church. It was used until 1778.
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33 reviews
  • The Abbey ruins are well worth a visit, we were there on a sunny day in February, no one else around, visitor centre was closed, I believe it is possible to get recorded messages but we really enjoyed...  more »
  • This village makes a most interesting half-day visit. The abbey is quiet and oozes history. Nest door is a medicinal herb garden filled with plants with explanations of how they are / were used for me...  more »
  • The abbey is on the Ards Peninsula, opposite Portaferry, actually. It's about 8 kilometres from Newtonards. Having said that, it's a beautiful monastic abbey ruin with several high crosses and in the ...  more »
  • One of these places that are beautiful , full of history and not very touristy yet.
  • Nice to visit..loads of history, free in. It's an old ruin, could take 20 mins to explore if your not taking your facilities on site. There is a public toilet 2min walk away , back into the town , turn left onto the Main Street and left again. If passing. Stop! A little hidden, its at the base of a current churches ground.
  • Got there but it was all closed up, looked interesting
  • A gorgeous site and genuinely a hidden gem, well worth visiting with exquisite ruins. The abbey was founded as a Cistercian abbey/monastery located on the north side of the village, dating from 1193. Historically it was also called Monesterlee or Monesterlea, which are anglicisations of its Irish name Mainistir Liath (grey abbey/monastery). Architecturally it is important as the first fully gothic style building in Ulster; it is the first fully stone church in which every window arch and door was pointed rather than round headed. There is a small visitor centre but opening times can be erratic.
  • This historic ruin is so beautiful and tucked away behind a church you'd miss it very easily. It's well worth a visit, there are picnic areas so go prepared and spend some lovely time there

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