Bangor Abbey

Corner of Abbey Street and Newtownards Road, near the centre of Bangor.

A building of great significance in the story of the Ulster-Scots, Bangor Abbey was rebuilt by Sir James Hamilton between 1617 and 1623. One of the most important Christian sites in Ireland, it was founded by St Comgall around 558. The abbey was burned in 1572 by Sir Brian O’Neill, whose grandson Con hid here following his escape from Carrickfergus Gaol. That escape was arranged by Sir Hugh Montgomery as part of a deal which would lead to the private plantation of Scots settlers in North Down and Ards.

The first Protestant minister in Bangor was Scotsman John Gibson, who was appointed Dean of Down in 1609. Sir James Hamilton had the church rebuilt, though the tower is from the 14th century. Robert Blair, Gibson’s replacement as minister, and many of his congregation were on board the Eagle Wing, the first emigrant ship to sail to America from Ulster, on its ill-fated trip in 1636. Sir James Hamilton is buried here, possibly in the inner tomb of the Ward Vault, under the present south transept. United Irishman James Dunlap, who was executed in Bangor, is buried in the graveyard, while you can see a drum belonging to the Rathgael Yeomanry Infantry, which fought at the Battles of Saintfield and Ballynahinch during the 1798 Rebellion.

Access

Good, public parking nearby. A short, signposted, walk from Bangor Castle. For more information visit www.bangorabbey.org or call 028 9127 0069

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