Medieval Foundation

The Cushen family traces its weaving heritage as far back as 1778 and a mill has stood on this site since the Cistercian monks first established their abbey in Graiguenamanagh in 1204.

Duiske Abbey was founded by the Anglo-Norman knight William Marshall and was one of the first and perhaps the finest of the thirty-four medieval Cistercian monasteries in Ireland. The towns name in Irish, Gráig na Manach, means Village of the Monks. Much of the abbey was constructed with cream limestone brought across the Irish Sea from quarries at Dundry, outside Bristol. The abbey derives its name from the Duiske river which in Irish, Dubh Uisce, means blackwater.

Graignamanagh has a long association with wool and textiles, the Cistercian chose the site because of its natural resources:

  • strong water supply to power cloth and flour mills
  • pure and soft water for washing yarn
  • fertile land for raising sheep
  • access to sea trading along the Barrow river

Wool produced in the Barrow valley was gathered by the monks and exported to the great textile centres across Europe.

The abbey was suppressed by Henry VIII in 1536 and the monk’s numbers gradually declined as did the abbey itself, Charles O’Cavanagh being the last abbot to preside.

In 1813 much of the ruins were re-roofed and restored. In 1886 the remaining west end was restored and partially rebuilt. A full restoration of the building was undertaken in the 1970’s and today it is possible to view several sections of the original floor of the abbey as well as the effigy of a 13th century knight.

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