Mount St. Joseph Abbey

Mount St. Joseph is a Cistercian monastery and second level college, located two miles west of Roscrea. The monastery was established in 1878 after the estate on which it was built was purchased for the Order by Arthur Moore, MP. The lands were originally a gift to the monks of Monaincha, and were later mortgaged to Richard Heaton, who would go on to become Dean of Clonfert. Dr. Heaton, who has been recognised as Ireland's first botanist, returned to England during the Confederate War, but by the mid 1660s it was recorded that he was able to maintain ownership of his lands. His son, Edward, re-named the place "Mount Heaton", and built a manor house there.

The estate passed into the hands of the Armstrong family, a member of which, William, would go on to lose it in 1816 in a card game to the Duke of York. York then, in the same game, lost it to General Taylor, whose family held and improved the estate until 1877. That year Arthur Moore purchased 2/3 of the property, 6oo acres' worth, for the Cistercians, at a total cost of £15,000.

Early Expansion


The Church was consecrated by Archbishop Croke in 1884, and its foundation stone, from the Roman Catacombs, was donated to the monks by Pope Leo XIII. The Abbey's first Abbot was Dom Camillus Beardwood, and it was he that oversaw the opening of the Cistercian College in 1905. Expansion of the Abbey and College then would continue for the next forty years, which saw the construction of various facilities and buildings, the most spectacular being the church spire, in 1938.

Overseas Establishments


The 1940s and '50s saw the popularity of the Cistercian Order increase, and Mount St. Joseph responded to this new trend by establishing daughter houses in Nunraw (Scotland), Tarrawarra (Australia) and, closer to home, Moone in Co. Kildare.

One of St. Joseph's best-known Abbots was Dom Eugene Boylan, elected in 1962. He entered the College as a lecturer on experimental physics, but achieved his fame as an author. His most famous publication, "This Tremendous Lover", was translated into nine languages.

Source - Cunningham, "Roscrea and District"

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