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Selskar Abbey
Mainistir Sheilsceire
Selskar, Wexford 2.jpg
Tower
Monastery information
Full name Priory of St. Peter and St. Paul
Other names Wexford Priory; Loch-Garman; Loch-Carmen; Weysford; Veyesereford; Viesercford
Order Augustinian Canons Regular
Established c.1190
Disestablished 1540
Dedicated to St. Peter and St. Paul
Diocese Ferns
People
Founder(s) Sir Alexander de la Roche
Architecture
Status ruined
Style Norman architecture
Site
Location Abbey Street, Wexford, County Wexford, Ireland
Coordinates 52°20′29″N 6°27′55″W / 52.3414°N 6.4654°W / 52.3414; -6.4654Coordinates: 52°20′29″N 6°27′55″W / 52.3414°N 6.4654°W / 52.3414; -6.4654
Visible remains church with tower
Wexford Selskar Priory Tower and Selskar Church Nave 2012 10 03
Selskar Priory Tower and Church Nave
Selskar, Wexford
View of the south wall
Selskar 3
East view with red sandstone walls.

Selskar Abbey is a ruined twelfth-century abbey in the town of Wexford, Ireland. It was an Augustinian house of canons, whose proper name was the Priory of St. Peter and St. Paul.

The name is derived from Old Norse selr-skar, "seal skerry."

History

It is claimed that originally a Viking temple to Odin stood on the site.

First church on site

There was an earlier church on the site: it was here in 1169 that Diarmait Mac Murchada signed the first Anglo-Irish peace treaty. The leading Norman commander Raymond FitzGerald, (nicknamed Le Gros ) and his wife Basila de Clare, sister of Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke, (nicknamed Strongbow), are said to have been married at Selskar in 1174.

There is a long-standing tradition that Henry II spent Lent of 1172 at Selskar Abbey, where he did penance for the murder of Thomas Becket. It is unclear if there is any truth in the story, although Henry was in Ireland at the time, and Becket's murder, some fifteen months earlier, was still a subject of great controversy, so that Henry might well have felt that Selskar was the right place to make an appropriate gesture of penance.

Second foundation

The surviving ruins are of the abbey which was founded about 1190 by Alexander de la Roche, ancestor of the Roche family who hold the title Baron Fermoy. The abbey was built with Dundry stone and dressed granite.

We have a glimpse of everyday life in the abbey through a letter which John Topcliffe, Lord Chief Justice of Ireland addressed to Henry VIII in about 1512. He complained that the monks who "time out of mind" had chosen their own Prior, had elected a "good blessed religious man" as Prior but that the Abbot had turned him out. It is unclear why the Chief Justice, who was an Englishman without any obvious ties to Wexford, was so concerned about the affair, nor why he thought the King would be interested. The King's reply, if any, is not recorded.

Selskar Abbey, Wexford, Ireland
Selskar Abbey

Suppression and later history

The Abbey was suppressed in 1542 and given to John Parker, the Master of the Rolls in Ireland. It later passed to the Stafford family. The Abbey was reportedly sacked by Oliver Cromwell's troops in 1649.

Today

Selskar Abbey is now part of the Westgate Heritage Tower; it reopened to the public in July 2012.

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