Movilla Abbey and Graveyard

Off Movilla Road, in the outskirts of Newtownards

Movilla was established by St Finian in the 6th century and you can still see the remains of a 13th century Augustinian abbey here. It is one of the most important Anglo-Norman burial sites in Ireland with eight 13th century coffin lids built into the surviving walls of the abbey. Dissolved by Henry V111, the abbey was later burned by Sir Brian O’Neill as part of his campaign to destroy the English colony of Sir Thomas Smith. It was granted to Sir James Hamilton in July 1605 and shortly afterwards transferred to Sir Hugh Montgomery.

Here, in the largest graveyard in the Ards, were buried the ordinary Ulster-Scots settlers of the Newtownards area (the elite were buried in Newtownards Priory). Among the 200 pre-1800 graves are those of many early Scots settlers, including tradesmen and merchants and some who became aldermen and provosts (mayors).

It was here that the Presbyterian minister David Baillie Warden, local leader of the 1798 Rebellion, assembled some 300 men from North Down to march on the Market House at Newtownards. Several United Irishmen are buried here, including Robert Robertson, hanged on June 10th 1798, and Reverend Archibald Warwick, hanged on October 15th 1798. 


Good, parking nearby. Visit or call 028 9181 1491 for more information.

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