The Cistercian Abbey In North Kerry

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In the region of North Kerry, on the road that travels north and east from the Vale of Tralee to Listowel, there is a small village called Abbeydorney, which sits at a crossroad that runs from the east to the west toward the Bay of Tralee and the mighty Atlantic Ocean.

To the south and east of the village, the foothills of the Stacks Mountains form part of this civil parish once known as O'Dorney. The village itself was known variously as Montnagee or Abbey O'Dorney before the name evolved into its present form.

Were your ancestors born near Abbeydorney?

The entire region rests in the upper valley of the Brick River and is intersected by a tributary called the Shannon which joins the Brick and runs a twisting course north to the sea.

Abbeydorney village (Irish: Mainistir Ó dTorna, meaning "Monastery of the clan of Torna") is 5 miles north of Tralee town and 8 miles from Listowel, has the distinction as being the only location in Kerry where the Cistercian monks set up a monastery.

Abbeydorney takes its name from the ancient abbey of Kirie Eleyson, or O'Dorney, founded here in 1154 by some person unknown, for the Cistertian monks, who were brought from the abbey of Magio, in the county of Limerick; the abbot was a lord in parliament.

The abbey and its possessions were conferred, at the dissolution, on Edmund Lord Kerry, who was created Baron O'Dorney in 1537; but they were to revert to the crown in the event of a default of male heirs; and some of the lands were granted by Queen Elizabeth to the provost, fellows, and scholars, of Trinity college, Dublin.

The village that developed around the abbey is of an agrarian nature and the institutions that have developed reflect this. In 1885, Abbeydorney GAA club was established, and in 1895 Abbeydorney Co-operative Dairy Society was formed. In 1920, during the War of independence, the village creamery and a number of houses were burned to the ground by RIC Auxiliaries and Black and Tans in a reprisal attack.

Info On Abbeydorney

Every time I think about Abbeydorney I remember my old friend Shamus. He is a good few years older than me and likes his pint, we had many a pint together when I was passing through to Ballybunion in the Abbey Inn.

One such occassion he told me about the conversation he had with his lovely wife the night before.

They had been sitting together watching television. During one of 'those' commercials, he asked her, "Whatever happened to our sexual relations?" After a long thoughtful silence (and during the next commercial), the wife replied, "You know, I don't know. I don't even think we got a Christmas card from them this year.

Like several towns and villages Abbeydorney had a railway station which was originally opened on 20 December 1880 on the line from Tralee to Limerick via Listowel. However Passenger services were withdrawn on 4 February 1963, although the route through Abbeydorney continued to be used by freight trains for a while before the line to Listowel was finally closed altogether in 1977 and then to Tralee 1978. The station closed on 6 February 1978. 

There is a strong GAA tradition in Abbeydorney and is renowned for their great traditions of hurling, although they have not won a title for several years. The local hurling team have won four County Championships, the last been in 1974, and in more recent times their minor teams have had great success, winning the minor county championship in 1999 and again in 2008. 

The Abbeydorney Ladies Football Club was the feeding ground for the great Kerry Ladies teams of the 80's & 90's. In more recent years they put back to back All Ireland's together. They won the Junior All Ireland Club title in 2004 and followed that a year later in 2005 by winning the All Ireland Intermediate Club title. 

There are many famous people from Abbeydorney. You will find them all on the Abbeydorney Web-Site, but the most famous son from Abbeydorny, I suppose was John L Sullivan, the man who bridged the gap between the bare-knuckle days and boxing with gloves. John L Sullivan’s 's father Mike Sullivan emigrated from Abbeydorney after the Famine. Mike's wife, (John's mother) the former Catherine Kelly from Athlone, County Roscommon (now Westmeath), met and married him in Boston, November 6, 1856. 

There were two bars in Abbeydorney at the crossroad, one one side and one on the other. Now only one is open, The Abbey Inn. 

Have you any info or news I could add about Abbeydorney, what`s on, GAA news, the Craic etc? If you have please email me at the link below. 

Abbeydorney Station

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