explore & do

Old Mellifont Abbey Visitors Centre

Mellifont Abbey was one of the wealthiest and most influential monastic houses in medieval Ireland


Mellifont Abbey is situated in a tranquil valley on the banks of the River Mattock, a tributary of the River Boyne. The Abbey derives its name from the Latin Font Mellis meaning ‘fountain of honey’. Many medieval monasteries founded by continental orders bore Latin names. Mellifont is the only one that survives as a current placename in Ireland.


In 1142, St Malachy brought the European monastic lifestyle to Ireland when he founded Old Mellifont Abbey, the country’s first Cistercian monastery. The site is located just a 10-minute drive from Drogheda in County Louth.


Although the remains of the Abbey are fragmentary, Mellifont is historically and architecturally significant. It was the first abbey in Ireland to be laid out according to the European cloistral plan – buildings constructed around a central open space. Its distinguishing feature is an octagonal lavabo, constructed about 1200, which functioned as a place for the monks to wash their hands in a symbolic gesture as a preparation for prayer. Lavabo means ‘I shall wash’.


The lavabo, the chapter house and the late medieval gate house remain partly intact. The layout of the reminder of the abbey can be seen from foundations revealed during excavations.


The visitor centre is completely accessible for guests with disabilities, but the main historical site is reachable only by stone stairway. Guests should wear shoes suitable for uneven terrain, as there are gravel pathways.


The centre contains some of the carvings found during excavations of the site. Guided tours are also available from May to October.



Location:  10km north-west of Drogheda off the R168 (Drogheda-Collon Road)


Bus Route(s): Contact Bus Eireann, Travel Centre +353 1 836 6111


Leaflet/Guide book: English, Irish, French, German, Italian, Spanish.


Seasonal Events: Please check in advance using contact details listed above.


Photography / Video allowed: Yes, but permit required for commercial purposes


Additional Information:  The Visitor Centre is fully accessible for visitors with disabilities.


Address: Tullyallen, Drogheda, Co. Louth
Email: mellifontabbey@opw.ie
Phone: +353 41 9826459
Website: http://www.heritageireland.ie