Drumlane Abbey, Milltown, Belturbet, Co Cavan, Ireland
Drumlane Abbey is an official part of the Marble Arch Geopark, and is situated a few miles from Belturbet just outside the quaint village of Drumlane, nestled in among a breathtaking backdrop of Cavan’s finest lake vistas. Swans, and whooping cranes abound in this peaceful lakeside setting. Take a step back to ancient historical Ireland, untouched and unblemished. A wonderful natural retreat to spend a quiet morning or afternoon Drumlane Abbey is truly one of the gems of the Marble Arch Geopark, and cannot be missed.
Drumlane (Droim Leathain in Gaelic) means the broad ridge hill. The Abbey itself is situated about a mile from Drumlane, and the monastery features a remarkably intact round tower, which is believed to have been constructed in the year 555. Although the monastery is closely affiliated to St. Mogue, it is believed the site was constructed some time before his day and most likely by St Colmcille.
Legend says that the parents of St Mogues visited the site before his birth, and had a vision about what was to come for their son. St Mogue was born on Port Island in Templeport roughly around 560. St Mogue spent a lot of time in Drumlane but later travelled to Wales and England before being appointed as the bishop of Ferns in County Wicklow. In his later years, St Mogue returned to Drumlane, where legend holds he had premonitions of the many battles that would later take place in the region between, the O’reilly and O’Rourke clans in the area. St Mogue then had another vision telling him to go to Rossinver in County Leitrim and he died there around the year 632.
There is also a Holy Well nearby which is attributed to St Mogues in the town land of Derrintinny about 1 mile from Drumlane. Many kings and chiefs of Breifne are believed to have been baptised at this holy well.
The Round Tower
Drumlane Abbey’s best known and most remarkable feature is its circular Round Tower, which stands next to the Abbey and is remarkably intact. It is the only surviving round tower of its kind in the dioceses of Kilmore. Several round towers were built throughout Ireland between the 5th and 13th centuries. They were built as protective enclosures, and were used to store many sacred valuables such as relics and manuscripts etc, and they also were used as watch towers. Entrances into these round towers would be elevated from the ground, and when the monks had to enter the tower upon attack they would do so by climbing a ladder, and they would then raise the ladder, preventing attackers from entering. Upon direct attack the monks would drop buckets of flaming pitch from the tower to prevent any breaches of the tower.
One striking aspect about the Round Tower of Drumalne is there are two very distinct modes of architecture at work. The lower portion of the tower is remarkably well built. Stones were cut exquisitely, and fitted tightly together. The upper half of the tower is a lot less ornate, but is nonetheless impressive.
There was an underground passageway, which lead from inside the monastery to the tower. This tunnel was later closed for safety purposes. Legend holds that that the monks of Drumlane left a cache of valuable treasures in nearby lakes, such as a bell, chalice, and a sacred trunk of books but this has never been proven.
Drumlane Abbey is just minutes from Belturbet, and well worth the visit. For tourists, and locals looking for historical relics from the past or just for an inspiring retreat to remarkably stunning countryside, Drumlane Abbey is a must visit. Currently, the site is still in use as a graveyard, and several graves on the grounds are hundreds of years old.
For more information on tourism, or for directions visit the Railway Station Information office in Belturbet Town.
Click here for more information on Cavan’s Marble Arch Geopark