The White Abbey

It’s a crying shame that there are no remaining visible signs of White Abbey. This picture shows the ruins of White Abbey around 1850 and the photograph below show the ruins around the turn of the 19th Century. This last surviving ruin (which was that of its chapter house) was demolished in the mid-1920s.

The history of White Abbey is absorbing…here’s just a few facts..

  1. John de Courcy founded the Premonstratensian Priory of St. Mary in Carrickfergus around 1183.
  2. The priory was promoted to Abbey status between 1210 and 1224.
  3. After 1224 the Abbot and Chapter received a new endowment and relocated to a new site in the parish of Carnmoney now known as White Abbey.
  4. This site already had a church which was incorporated into the new abbey.
  5. The abbey had the alterative names of Druin La Croix (Place of the Cross, on account of its possession of a valuable relic – a piece of Christ’s cross)
  6. By the early 14th Century it was one of the richest abbeys in Ireland.
  7. It was badly damaged during the Edward Bruce campaign of 1315-18.
  8. By 1326 the Abbot and Chapter had relocated to a new site at Woodburn near Carrickfergus.
  9. It is thought some canons continued to live among the whitewashed ruins which had become known as White Abbey.