The Bottom Line
- Large medieval abbey, partly converted and in ruins, in nice scenic location.
- "Rabbit warren" layout makes for interesting sightseeing.
- Access for mobility impaired travelers impossible.
- No visitor center or facilities.
- The abbey was founded in 1147 by King Murchad of Meath for the Cistercians, it was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
- The buildings were rebuilt and fortified in the 15th century, the still impressive cloister was built.
- The massive tower, giving the abbey a very military exterior appearance, was added at the same time.
Guide Review - Bective Abbey (County Meath)
But before you can see Bective Abbey close-up you have to manage a few hurdles. In fact I have seen several tourists turn away disappointed ... not managing to find the very small (open) gate set into the larger (and securely locked) field gate. Which also makes it almost impossible for mobility impaired visitors to get in. Add the fact that you have to climb over the wall surrounding the abbey later (small and irregular steps are provided) and you will wish for somebody with a key to the proper gates.
But once you managed to gain access you are in for a treat. Bective Abbey has been rebuilt several times over the centuries and you might be forgiven to call the ruins a "castle" - the building was fortified and it shows. What also shows is that repeated renovations and partial rebuilds plus decay will leave a home-owner with a veritable rabbit warren of passages, souterrains and staircases endng in thin air. Bective Abbey cries out to be explored, even though the more dangerous areas are securely off limits. The positive side being that you can let kids explore as well. Be prepared for tall stories on the way home.
Adult visitors can learn about the abbey's history and architecture with the help of two informative but concise panels. Which contain, to be honest, all the information most visitors need. So the missing visitor center is a minor gripe - unless you would need easier access.
By the way ... parking is not easy at Bective Abbey, find a safe spot on the roadside (near he bridge maybe), do not create traffic hazard and avoid locking any entrances.