or Mainister Buite, or the Monastery of St. Buite ... is famous for its two
wonderful carved crosses and its round tower. St. Buite died in 521, but we do
not know the excact year of the foundation of his monastery.
St. Colmcille visited
the place in 551 and marked out the graveyard, and again twelve years , on his
journey to Iona after the battle of Cooldreimne.
It had a long history
of abbots and coarbs to 1093, but its two most famous men were Flann
Mainistreach, Lector, who died in 1056, and Muirdeach, Abbot from 890, who died
in 923. Flann was renowned all over Ireland for his learning and teaching. His
histories and poems still survive and are "amongst the most valuable remains of
early Irish literature". The Annals, in recording his death, describe him as the
"last sage of the Gaedhil, both in reading and history".
Muirdach Mac Domhnall,
a member of the O Domhnaills of the North, raised the great carved cross which
still bears his name after 1,000 years. He was vice-Abbot of Armagh and Ard Maor
or High Steward of the southern Ui Neill. Half a century after his death the
Norsemen reached Monasterboice and seem to have settled an outpost there.
We do not know when
the round tower was built, but it was burnt in 1097 and with it the priceless
library. It is of an early type, built of large stones carefully fitted and
passing through a considerable thickness of the wall.
The carved crosses
are the wonder of the place and are amongst the finest still remaining in