The first christian use of the site was as far back as the 7th century. Indeed, the Irish missionary Saint Mirin apparently established a community there. A chapel within Paisley Abbey is dedicated to the saint, and the town’s soccer club is named in his honor. The abbey site eventually became a prominent pilgrimage spot, following the building of a shrine to Saint Mirin sometime after his death. Then, in 1163, a group of monks arrived and built a priory, under a charter issued by the nobleman Walter fitz Alan, the first High Steward of Scotland. The current holder of that title is Charles, Prince of Wales.
By 1245, the priory had risen in prominence to become an abbey. But 62 years later, the invading King Edward I of England ordered that the structure be burned down. Nevertheless, by the end of the 14th century, Paisley Abbey had been reconstructed. Alas, not well enough – some 200 years later, the central tower of the abbey collapsed, destroying several parts of the building.
For centuries, much of Paisley Abbey lay in ruins. Eventually, however, restoration work began on the tower, transepts and choir in the late 19th century. It has proved to be a continual process, with the latest round of refurbishments starting in 2002. However, despite the physical changes to the structure down the centuries, the abbey has still been witness to significant history.