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A visit to Bective Abbey in County Meath with Stephen Walsh.

Hello and welcome to this weekend’s virtual walk .
Today we are in County Meath. I want to bring you on a visit to an interesting and lesser visited historic place , please come along with me to visit Bective abbey .
Standing on a quiet roadside on the banks of the river Boyne in a quiet field stands an impressive structure. For years it was abandoned an overgrown, but in recent years it’s been taken into state care and renovated , so there is easy access for us to visit.
Let’s park in the car park and head through the little gate leading to the abbey. The days is dull, but occasionally there is a break in the clouds and the place is flooded in winter sunshine.
As we go along let me tell you about The history of Bective Abbey . History tells us that the abbey was founded in 1147 for the Cistercian order by Marched O’ Maeil – Sheachlainn , king of the County of Meath. The Order had been founded to recapture the original simplicity of monastic life, this was reflected in their restrained buildings.
As we enter, we can see that the ruins provide a maze of passageways with dead ends and interrupted staircases, all asking to be explored. Let’s take a look at fragments of the early 13th century church, 15th century cloister, and 16th century tower . What we see is a timeline of Irish history : from the building of the first monastery, and the development of the fine buildings from the 12th to the 15th century.
Then the abbey was partially demolished following the dissolution of the Monasteries under King Henry VIII in 1543. The lands were then rented, and the monastery began to be used as a fortified house.
For me , the best preserved places for us to see are the church, chapter house and cloister. The cloister ruins are particularly well-preserved, and feature pointed, gothic arches , Celtic knotwork carvings and sculptures typical of Cistercian architecture.
Due to the attraction of its medieval ruins, I have done some filming here in the past and I’m not the only person to appreciate the architectural heritage . Bective Abbey has been used three times by Hollywood producers: in 1955 for Captain Lightfoot starring Rock Hudson, the 1995 blockbuster Braveheart starring Mel Gibson and most recently in 2020 by Ridley Scott for his medieval epic The Last Duel, starring Matt Damon, Adam Driver, Jodie Comer and Ben Afleck.
Its time to head back to the car. I hope that you enjoyed our stroll today and see you next time.
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Please enter your contact details here and your question and I will answer it as soon as possible, many thanks. Stephen