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Mellifont Abbey (Irish: An Mhainistir Mhór, literally “the big abbey”), located close to Drogheda in County Louth, was the first Cistercian abbey to be built in Ireland.
Mellifont Abbey is now a ruin. Little of the original Abbey remains, save a 13th-century lavabo (where the monks washed their hands before eating), some Romanesque arches and a 14th-century chapter house.
Founded in 1142 on the orders of Saint Malachy, Archbishop of Armagh, Mellifont Abbey sits on the banks of the River Mattock, some ten km (6 miles) north-west of Drogheda.
By 1170, Mellifont had one hundred monks and three hundred lay brothers. The Abbey became the model for other Cistercian abbeys built in Ireland, with its formal style of architecture imported from the abbeys of the same order in France; it was the main abbey in Ireland until it was closed in 1539, when it became a fortified house.