The Abbey of St. Thomas the Martyr was founded in the 12th century and played a pivotal role in the religious and political affairs of Dublin city until its dissolution in 1539.
The abbey was dedicated to Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, who had been murdered in his cathedral by Henry II’s knights in 1170. Becket was canonised in 1173, and the abbey in Dublin was founded shortly afterwards as an act of restitution by the king. The abbey gave Thomas Street its name, and had a major influence on Dublin while in operation.
While no trace of the abbey remains, Dublin City Council’s South Central Area office and Dublin City Archaeologist Dr Ruth Johnson have been working to unravel the mysteries and bring the abbey back to life. A weekend of events celebrating the abbey took place in October 2017. As part of the celebrations, a symposium on the history of the abbey took place in St Catherine’s Church, Thomas Street on 14 October. Podcasts from the conference were produced by Real Smart Media and are now available on History Hub.
Speakers who gave presentations at the symposium included:
- Michael Staunton (UCD). Thomas Becket and the Invasion of Ireland.
- Paul Duffy (IAC Archaeology). The Sacred and the Profane: preliminary results of archaeological excavations at 30 and 32-36, Thomas Street.
- Marie Therese Flanagan (QUB). The foundation and early history of the Abbey of St Thomas the Martyr.
- Tadhg O’Keeffe (UCD). St Thomas’ Abbey and the chronology of Early English Gothic in Ireland.
- Colmán Ó Clabaigh (Glenstal). For the Love of God and Neighbour: lifestyle of the Canons of St Thomas’ Abbey.
- Aine Foley. St Thomas’ Abbey and the City of Dublin in the late medieval period.
- Roger Stalley (TCD). The Augustinians and their architecture.
- Edel Bhreathnach (Discovery Programme). Old and new monastic communities in Dublin in the twelfth century.
- Catherine Scuffil. Summation.
The full conference programme can be found here.
Slides referenced by the speakers
Paul Duffy. The Sacred and the Profane – preliminary results of archaeological excavations at 30 & 32-36, Thomas Street.
Tadhg O’Keeffe. St Thomas’ Abbey and the chronology of Early English Gothic in Ireland.
Colmán Ó Clabaigh. For the Love of God and Neighbour: the lifestyle of the Canons of St Thomas’s Abbey.
Áine Foley. St Thomas’s Abbey and the City of Dublin in the late medieval period.
Roger Stalley. The Augustinians and their architecture.
Photos by Real Smart Media, featured image © Stephen Conlin.