Moor Abbey – An early Monastic Site – Winter 2002

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Moorpark Cemetery is well known as a Lisheen for infants of the surrounding area and the burial place of some local families.

Headstones mark the graves of the Egan and Harte families and there is also a beautiful vault for the remains of the Lamberts of Castle Lambert.

On the ordnance survey maps this graveyard is named Moor Abbey and as part of our study of local history, in April 2000, Martin T. Kelly and I took aerial photos of the area to visually survey, in the first instance, evidence of a related settlement. We did find that Moor Abbey and the present day graveyard is part of a much more extensive site.

The photos show a trace of one enclosing embankment that is very clear on the east, south and west sides of the site. On the north side where the land has been reclaimed there still remains a less visible trace of the surrounding embankment.

The Lambert Vault, probably completed in 1867 for the interring of Walter Lambert, the local landlord, is built within what looks like a medieval stone building some of which remains intact. This may well be the remains of a church.

To the south and south east of the graveyard is what appears to be rectangular and sub rectangular wall footings which may indicate related structures. Also clearly visible, within the enclosure, are a deep well and a bullaun stone. These are also characteristic of an early monastic settlement.

From this preliminary investigation there seems to be enough evidence to suggest that Moor Abbey is an early lrish monastic settlement. In that regard further study and surveying is required to enable us to make a more definite interpretation of the site.

Finbarr O’Regan teaches in Carnaun National School, Athenry and has published “Carnaun School 1891 — 1991 and “The Lamberts of Athenry” 1999. He is the founder and editor of “The Athenry Journal”.

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About this record

Written by Finbarr O'Regan

Published here 28 Jul 2023 and originally published Winter 2002

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