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The Most Historic Spot in All Dublin: Guided Tour of the Remains of St. Mary’s Abbey

“Yes, sir, Ned Lambert said heartily. We are standing in the historic council chamber of saint Mary’s abbey where silken Thomas proclaimed himself a rebel in 1534. This is the most historic spot in all Dublin.” Ulysses

St. Mary’s Abbey, founded in 1139, was one of the largest and most important medieval monasteries in Ireland. Although there are few visible remains of the Abbey today, its memory is preserved in local street names – Abbey Street, Little Mary Street, Capel Street (from the Latin Capella) and Mary Street. Of the original buildings there now remains only the Chapter House and the Slype.

The Chapter House was the most important room in the monastery after the Church. Here the monks gathered after morning mass. After prayers, a chapter from the Rule was read out (hence domus capituli or chapter house) followed by comments and spiritual advice from the abbot. Then came prayers for the dead and the ceremony ended with public confession, each monk in turn speaking openly in front of his brothers. The Chapter House was the conference room of the monastery and as such merited special architectural treatment. The Slype was the corridor which linked the privacy of the cloister with the open area to the East, where the infirmary was usually situated.

James Joyce writes about St. Mary’s Abbey in Ulysses and references the streets it inspired throughout his oeuvre. In honour of Joyce, the Office of Public Works/Oifig na nOibreacha Poiblí is offering free tours of the Abbey during the Bloomsday Festival.

Tour Schedule:

June 10, 12, 14 at 11am. Tickets are free but booking is essential.

June 16 at 1-3pm. No booking required. Numbers are limited inside the space, so visitors may have to queue for entry.

Please note that St. Mary’s Abbey is not accessible for anyone with mobility issues.

  • 10 - 16 June, 2024
11:00 am3:00 pm


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