Saints Island Priory

Saints Island Priory, outside Newtowncashel, Coounty Longford.

History & Info
Saints Island is one of the most beautiful places in County Longford with stunning views out across Lough Ree. Located  a short distance outside the award winning village of Newtowncashel, it is  reachable by narrow side roads, but is well signposted. Originally an Island, the site is now connected to the mainland by a causeway across marshy ground.

It was on this Island that St Cieran of Clonmacnoise is reputed to have  first founded a monastery before 542AD. On the Island now can be seen the ruins of an Augustinian Monastery founded by Sir Henry Dillon sometime before 1259AD.

The monastery flourished during the fourteenth century under the scholarly Abbot Augustin Magraidin, described by many as a sage during his lifetime in divine and worldly wisdom. He was the author of an important manuscript collection of the lives of Irish Saints ‘Vitae Sanctorum Hiberniae’ which has been a valuable source for later writers. The work is now preserved in the Rawlinson collection of manuscripts in the Bodleian Library, Oxford. Magaidrin also compiled the Annals of the Abbey of All Saints, Lough Ree, listed by the Four Masters as one of their sources. This is also available in the Bodhleian Library. Magaidrin died in 1405. The Monastery  survived up to the time of the suppression of the monasteries, when it was suffered greatly first under Henry the VIII and thereafter Elizabeth I. The ravages of time took their toll and the site lay derelict for centuries.

This tranquil place is a favourite haunt of marsh birds. In spring the curlew, lapwing and various species of wild duck may be seen in great numbers. It is a picturesque and spiritual place to while away an hour or two in contemplation not only of nature but of Irelands ancient history as the Land of Saints and Scholars.

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