80th anniversary of St Mary’s Abbey, Glencairn

Saturday, 10 March, 2012 marked the 80th anniversary of St Mary’s Abbey, Glencairn; the first Cistercian monastery to be founded in Ireland since before the reformation.

Following our celebratory mass in the Abbey church, we were privileged, later in the morning, to hear a preview of Sr Lily’s presentation on “The History of Cistercian Nuns in the Region of the Isles” for this year’s 50th spring conference “From Citeaux to Roscrea” at Mount Saint Joseph’s Abbey, Roscrea, 13-15 April, 2012.

The history of this region’s Cistercian life for women dates back to the years of the French revolution when a young Cistercian nun Madame Chabannes and her sisters narrowly escaped the guillotine and fled to Switzerland seeking asylum before embarking on what has been termed the “Monastic Odyssey” which took the refugees across Europe, eventually founding the monastery of Holy Cross Abbey in Dorset, England in 1802.

Holy Cross Abbey went on to found St Mary’s Abbey, Glencairn in 1932. Our own and subsequent foundations in the United States resulted in the most recent foundation for this Region of the Isles in the Cistercian Order with a Cistercian monastery for women in Tautra, Norway in 1999 (from Our Lady of Mississippi Abbey, Iowa).

Before she recounted this formidable history, Sr Lily who is our farm manager sister, discovered on her night watch in the early hours of the 10th March, that twin lambs had just been born to one of our expectant mothers, the first of this year’s lambing season, marking Glencairn’s 80th birthday!

Photo: Sr Lily and Sr Denise holding our first lambs of the season