Killone Abbey (Nunnery) Church




N 52° 48' 22.5"   W 009° 00' 15.96"

Nearest town


Grid Ref.

R 32277 73281

Map No.


Elevation a.s.l. (m)


Date of visit

Tuesday 12 June 2018

GPS Accuracy (m)

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The ruins of the abbey are at the end of a 800 metres long path. At the very beginning of this path is this building, most likely sort of a gatehouse.

The fascinating ruins of Killone Abbey are situated on the northwest bank of Killone Lake. It is believed that Donal Mor O'Brien, King of Thomond and Munster, founded this Augustinian nunnery for the Canonesses Regular in 1189, at the same time of the nearby Clare Abbey, that is 3.5 km northeast from here. This nunnery was later dedicated to Saint John.
The name Killone comes from the Irish Cill Eoin, "(St.) John's Church".

The ruins are of a nave and chancel church at the north of the complex, an east range building, in rather good conditions, the north wall of the south range, and some poor remains of a west range. Among those buildings is a small square cloister, now used as graveyard.
The chancel too is paved with many grave slabs. The east side of the church has two wonderful round-headed windows. Within the east wall is a mural stair that allows to have a look at the surrounding lands and lake. There's no protection at the windows, so visitors must be very cautious!
The south wall of the nave is missing, but the magnificent south doorway has been spared, and has beautiful floral carvings on all orders.
The church has been built on a sloping ground. To compensate for this slope, under the chancel a crypt was built.

Many, if not all the abbesses of the nunnery were from the O'Brien family.
It seems that the monastic site was dissolved in 1543, and again in 1584. This might suggest that the first attempt was unsuccessful.
Up, in the southeast corner of the external wall of the church, at the roof level, is a carved stone depicting a woman's head.

The church is aligned to the east (85°).

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