Original Sancta Maria de Castro Dei

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Around 1170 a Cistercian Abbey was founded on what is now Ashe Quay. There the monks built the town’s first weir somewhere by Ashe Quay/Abbey Street. A settlement grew around the abbey, Sancta Maria de Castro Dei, or Our Lady of the Camp of God. The first settlement grew around the Abbey. From then the area was known as Mainistir Fhearmui (the Monastery of the Men of the Free Plain). History records that the Cistercians operated a ferry service across the river. At the dissolution of the monasteries in 1540, the abbey and lands passed to various English landlords. There followed a succession of owners and leaseholds until about 1612 when only the ruins and about 30 acres remained. In 1791 the Scottish entrepreneur John Anderson purchased the Abbey property. He used the then hamlet as a staging point for the Bianconi coach system. He had been instrumental in bringing the first delivery of the Royal Mail from Dublin to Cork within 24 hours, on the 8th of July 1789. Anderson planned the layout of the modern town around the river and built the current weir, using the river to power the new town’s industrial base, a purpose-built mill to the east of the bridge. The house (Resource Centre) went through a number of tenancies before being leased to the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) in 1903 by the Meagher family. The RIC occupied the building until 1923. During this period the basement cells were used to hold various people, notable among them being the Kent brothers who were held there before being moved to a place of execution in 1916. These cells can still be accessed today through the basement of the building. Ownership passed from the Meagher family to the Office of Public Works and the Gardai occupied the building from 1924 to 1980.