Today Timoleague is a quiet backwater loved by bird spotters who come here in their droves to watch the wading birds on the mudflats during the migrating season. Once this was a bustling costal port like Kinsale until 1755 when it was hit by a Tsunami and the previous navigable bay filled with tons of mud. It was only years afterwards they found out that their misfortune had been caused by the Lisbon earthquake of 1755.
Timoleague Abbey is the main focal point in Timoleague friendly West Cork village and it stands picturesquely at the water's edge at the head of a long sea inlet. In its day it was one of the largest and most important of the religious houses in Ireland. It was founded by one of the MacCarthys for the Franciscans in 1240, on the site already associated with St. Molaga - hence the name Timoleague, i.e. Tigh Molaga or the House of Molaga.
Like all such monasteries, it was suppressed during the Reformation but the monks stayed in the district and returned in 1604 to repair it and bring it back to life. It must have recovered to some degree: the important MSS, known as the Book of Lismore, was in its keeping in 1629. It is said that the monks did a goodly trade in smuggled Spanish wine!
Top Tip: Walk or cycle the lovely level coastal path to Courtmacsherry which follows the line of the old railway.