Boyle Abbey was the largest Cistercian foundation in Ireland. The monastic order settled in Boyle in 1161 and the Abbey took over 60 years to build. Boyle Abbey was consecrated in 1218 at the height of Cistercian activity in Ireland.
Over the centuries Boyle Abbey survived a number of attacks. In the early 13th century the Abbey was besieged by the Anglo-Norman Earl of Ulster and later attacked and plundered by the Lord Justice Maurice FitzGerald. Feuds in the Middle Ages between the MacDermott and O Connor clans brought further attacks to the doors of the monastery.
Having survived for nearly 400 years the monastic order would leave the Abbey following a fire in 1555. Now the property of the Crown, in the late 1500s Boyle Abbey became a military barracks to the army of Elizabeth I and later the Cromwellian Army. It formed part of the estate of the King family.
The well preserved ruin exemplifies mediaeval Cistercian architecture and features elements of both Romanesque and early Gothic styles. A restored gatehouse of 16th/17th century houses a fascinating exhibition about the history of the Abbey.