When St Patrick brought Christianity to Ireland in c.441AD, he founded a church at Ballintubber. The present Abbey was founded in 1216 by King Cathal O'Conor. It is the only church in Ireland still in daily use that was founded by an Irish king.
Ballintubber Abbey is known as "the Abbey that refused to die". Through its many vicissitudes, including burning by Cromwell's army in 1653, the Abbey has remained a place of worship despite years of continuous attacks and religious repression.
Built in 1216 for the Canon Regulars of St Augustine, it is beside a 5th century monastic site associated with St Patrick. Ballintubber retains an air of ancient beauty and spirituality and has been restored with simple elegance.
Pilgrims set out from the Abbey on the ancient pilgrim route, Tochar Phadraig, and journey some 22 miles to Croagh Patrick.
There is a video display and an interpretive centre at the Abbey and the grounds are landscaped to portray spiritual themes.