Duleek Abbey began life as a monastic settlement when, in 450 AD, Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland, established a bishopric there.
Duleek derives from the Irish Damhliag, meaning ‘stone house or church' and refers to the 5th Century construction, possibly the first stone building in Ireland and the ruins are still visible today.
Care of the bishopric was granted to one of St. Patrick's followers, St. Cianan. The ruins of his church can be seen opposite those of the Priory. During the 9th and 10th centuries, the monastery suffered near constant raids by Vikings settled at nearby Drogheda. Incredibly, the small community survived. In 1014, the Vikings were defeated by the Irish High King, Brian Boru, at The Battle of Clontarf. Boru was slain; his body lay in Duleek Abbey before being brought to Armagh for burial. The impressive ruins are the remains of an Augustinian Priory, St. Mary's Abbey, established in the 12th century. Outside, a beautiful, 9th-century High Cross bears elaborate carvings typical of the period- the crucifixion, scenes from the life of the Virgin Mary, symbols of the Evangelists.
The Duleek Heritage Trail has been conceived as a series of stepping stones through the village and its long and varied history. Read more about the Duleek heritage trail here. The village's four crosses and the lime tree on the village green are reminders of Duleek's links to the struggle between William and James and to wider European unrest at the time of Louis the XIV of France. We hope you enjoy exploring present-day Duleek by following the stepping stones of the Duleek Heritage.
Listen to some wonderful audio on Duleek Abbey - part of the Boyne Valley Drive:
Duleek Heritage Group,