Visit Glenstal Abbey, a Benedictine Monastery in Murroe, County Limerick.

Glenstal Abbey is a very quiet and holy place despite its surprising appearance. A 19th century Norman revivalist Castle, it was home to the Barrington family who lived there up until it was sold to the Benedictine order of Monks who arrived from Belgium in 1927. It became a working abbey with a dairy farm, guest house and boading school for boys, which continues today. You can stay here on a personal retreat if you like, but even a day trip will be enough to restore your mind, body and soul.

In recent years the Monks have become quite famous with the release for sale of their recorded Gregorian chants. A reaction perhaps, to the stresses and strains of life outside of these walls, with which we are all too familiar, or a longing for the alternative peace and tranquillity of monastic life, without the constraints? Did I tell you about their delicious chocolate truffles laced with liqueurs, such as Benedictine itself, Chartreuse etc from monasteries of Europe, I could be converted.....

Glenstal Abbey has also just released its first ever cookbook, which no doubt will be just as successful as their best selling prayer books ! Real ‘soul food’ based on the Monk's legendry hospitality, and a homage to big-hearted, homely comfort food laden with blessed butter, cream, and eggs by the dozen. Compiled by Brother Anselm (real life brother to actor John Hurt) it is available directly from their online shop, as are their divine truffles above!

A working abbey in a no-nonsense style yet warm, hospitable and kind. Spiritual guidance is available and the church is open to all religious persuasions, including with the beautiful Icon crypt, designed as a portal to the cosmos. The abbey itself follows a rigorous schedule of prayers, service and devotion combined with domestic life and constant visitors.

There is a magnificent arboretum with ancient specimen trees, one of the few remaining parts of the primeval forest which once cover all of Ireland. The 17th century tiered walled garden, has been restored and a special garden planted with biblical herbs and flowers introduced. It overlooks an ornamental lake which is a delight in the Autumn, and of course there are plenty of quiet places to sit and ponder, or just breathe in the unique peace that is to be found in this sacred place....

For 10 Other things to do and see in the area including the Glen of Aherlow, Galtee Mountains, Brian Boru Centre and Killaloe? click here

Talk to you next week Susan Byron author of Irelands Hidden Gems

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