Belfast & Northern Ireland

Nendrum Monastic Site

The Strangford Lough island setting of this ancient monastic site is as dramatic as it is historic.

Traditionally founded in the 5th Century by St. Machaoi - a swine-herding youth baptised by St. Patrick - Nendrum was subsequently raided by Vikings in 976AD and its Abbot burned in his house.

A small Benedictine cell was founded in the late-12th century and, in 1306, the Monastery was documented as a parish church.

The historical trail runs cold until the mid-19th century when a historian discovered the remains of a round tower.

Excavations in the 1920s, followed by major restoration work, unearthed three concentric dry-stone walled enclosures - with a church ruin, sundial (pic above), graveyard and hut & workshop remains among the archaeological highlights.

In the 1990's, excavation on the nearby foreshore found evidence of a two phase tide mill built first in AD620, then c. AD797.

With no rivers on the island, seapower drove the corn mill - the world's earliest known tide mill.

Take a couple of hours to explore this fascinating slice of ancient Irish history and, if the weather's kind, bring a picnic and stop to admire the picture postcard backdrop of Strangford's bobbing yachts and swooping seabirds.

The visitor centre houses interactive and graphic displays, models, artefacts and video.

Note that there is a very narrow approach road and children should be accompanied by adults due to the site's exposed loughshore setting and uneven surface.

  • The Monastery is situated on Mahee Island in Strangford Lough, approached along narrow, twisting lanes and causeways. It is signposted off the A22 immediately south of Comber.

There is no public transport available to site and the road is not suitable for large coaches.


Outside seating
Guarded parking


Site accessible year-round. Visitor Centre open Feb-March Sat 10:00-16:00, Sun 14:0016:00

Price/Additional Info

Free admission


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