Inch Abbey has been one of my favourite locations since I was a small boy. It is always peaceful, frequently deserted and conjurers the ghosts of Ireland's fabled past when its religious centres were the beacons of light and knowledge in Europe's dark ages.
Situated on the north bank of the River Quoile near Downpatrick, Inch Abbey was originally located on an island in the Quoile Marshes. It is the remains of a Cistercian Abbey founded in 1180, by John de Courcy, who led the 1177 Anglo-Norman invasion of East Ulster. It is said that John built the Abbey as an act of repentance for his part in the destruction of the abbey at Erinagh. Inch was colonised by monks from Furness Abbey in Lancashire in 1180, along with some of the monks from Erinagh. The site at the river has an early Christian earthwork enclosure surviving from before the Abbey was built. This was a pre-Norman church called Inis Cumhscraigh that was plundered by Vikings in 1002.