Drogheda Municipal Art Collection

St Mary's Abbey, Drogheda (1878)

Henry Roper-Curzon

b. 1822 - d. 1892
1878 Watercolour on paper

The Abbey of St Mary d'Urso (known locally as 'the old Abbey' is shown tucked away in a secluded laneway. The abbey and hospital of St Mary d'Urso were founded in 1206 by Ursus de Swemele and his wife, Christina, and were located at the western end of the town initially outside the early town defences, but later coming within the town defences, which were rebuilt to the west of the abbey. The buildings were subsequently taken over by the Augustinian Crucifers, who founded their priory here in 1330: the year the River Boyne flooded its banks and caused considerable damage to the complex. The abbey was later restored, thanks mainly to the generosity of the Brandon family. The outward evidence of the wealth of the medieval monasteries in Drogheda is apparent in this view. The borough was one of the most important English towns in Ireland during the Middle Ages, with Augustinians, Carmelites, Dominicans and Franciscans all resident in the town. This indicates the town's position in ecclesiastical politics of the medieval period, as all religious houses had to be close to the residence of Primate of All Ireland, the Archbishop of Armagh (and in the case of the Roman Catholic Archbishop who was resident in Drogheda from the time of the Norman Invasion until the early nineteenth century).