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Museum at Mellifont Abbey

  • Architect:
    McGarry NiEanaigh Architects
  • Award Type:
    Regional Award 1996
  • Location: Leinster
Museum at Mellifont Abbey


This new Museum building being located in a very high profile location overlooking this ancient monument has been handled with great subtlety. This has been achieved through the use of natural materials and the employment of an indigenous barn like building form linked to existing traditional buildings of domestic character.

Architect's Comment
Little of the original buildings of Mellifont remain but there are large amounts of worked stones which form the subject of the museum. The reference for the museum was Sir John Soane's in London - essentially that the space would be a naturally lit repository for objects.

The original building fabric has been refurbished with coloured render, collared rafters, natural slates and up and down sash windows. New openings in the building to the courtyard and the gable window to the Abbey have exposed steel linings - the lintel on the gable window functions as a tie to brace the existingfront and rear walls.

Client's Comment
The monastery at Mellifont, founded in 1142, was the first Cistercian monastery in Ireland. Of the many phases of construction only the chapterhouse, lavabo and the footing of the other buildings remain. However there is a very significant collection of dressed stone found during works in the late 19th century and the archeological excavation, 1954-5.

The brief was to convert a19th century mill cottage, later the first Youth Hostel in Ireland, to provide a space to display this material.