About this church
Before the Abbey was built there, there was a pre-Norman church called Inis Cumhscraigh on the site, which was plundered by Vikings in 1002. Its large earthworks, which can clearly been seen from the air, still survive in parts.
The buildings are mainly from the 12th and 13th centuries while it is believed the church is older than that at Grey Abbey which was built about 1193.
Inch signifies an island and it has been the site of an abbey from the first millennium. The site was raided by Vikings in 1002. The original site was on the large hill behind the east window. This would have overlooked Strangford Lough which surrounded the island until the 1700s.
When John de Courcy arrived at Downpatrick in 1177 and fought off the Irish the waters around the site were said to have been red with the blood that was spilt. He had also destroyed another abbey in the area known as Erenagh.
As a mark of his penance he built the present ruins in 1180 and brought in monks from Furness. One of these monks, Jocelin, wrote The Life and Times of Saint Patrick here. Across the water is Down Cathedral where Patrick is buried with Saints Columba and Brigid.