Founded by Turlough O’Brien, King of Limerick, between 1148 and 1151, the venerable ruins of Monasteranenagh, known locally as Mainistir (Abbey), present an imposing sight over the Maigue River, three kilometres east of Croom. This Cistercian monastery has some delightful architectural features, dating from the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries. Abbots of Mainistir were also Lords of Parliament. Many of the earlier abbots were involved in well documented lawsuits.
A great battle took place here in 1365, in which Brian OBrien and the MacNamaras combines to defeat the King of Thomond. During the Reformation, in 1541, Mainistir was dissolved. However, in 1579, it witnessed another great battle when the English, led by Sir Nicholas Malby, routed Sir John of Desmond. Afterwards, Sir Nicholas turned his cannon on the abbey where some of the Irish had taken refuge. As a result, its cloister and refectory were destroyed, and the surviving monks were put to the sword.
This 120 metre high landmark has a summit area of about 40 hectares. Wildlife flourishes on the hillside and on its nearby lake. Known as Nagirra, the lake provides one of the best examples in the county of the geological and ecological landform assemblage known as “upland krastic limestones”.
There are two terraces on the hillside. The lower is partly natural, partly man-made, whilst the upper appears to be artificial and surrounds almost the entire hill.
The name Tory Hill or “Cnoc Toraidhe” is no earlier than 18th century in origin, Tory being a highwayman or robber. It is thought that the hill took its name from the tories who took refuge there.
A gold lunula (collar) dating to the Bronze Age (2,000 to 500BC), which is now in the National Museum of Ireland, was found in the lake in 1852.