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Kells Priory Monastic Settlement
 

County

Kilkenny

Coordinates

N 52° 32' 19.8"   W 007° 16' 01.0"

Nearest town

Thomastown

Grid Ref.

S 49789 43251

Map No.

67

Elevation a.s.l. (m)

42

Date of visit

Saturday 29 May 2010

GPS Accuracy (m)

9
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A view of the outer fortified walls with two of the towers.


The Kells priory is maybe the largest ecclesiastical settlement in Ireland. The religious buildings are surrounded by a fortified wall, with a number of towers spaced at regular intervals along the wall.
It was founded in 1193 by Geoffrey FitzRobert, who was a brother-in-law of Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke, also known as Strongbow. The priory was then colonized by the monks from Bodmin, Cornwall.
Between 1252 and 1327 the priory was attacked three times. The fortification was erected during these troubled years.
The fortified walls enclose a large court to the south of the complex, while to the north, between the large court and the river, are the monastic buildings, like a church, a chapel and several domestic buildings. At the west end of the complex there are the foundations of a round tower. From this point one can overlook the entire complex.

We visited this place for the first time on July 4th, 1994, and again on June 4th, 2001. We never saw this place free of scaffoldings, but I think that restoration works are halted since the first visit.
I can estimate that the whole complex covers an area of at least 5 acres. It's huge and it's hard to follow a linear path during the visit.

The Priory was one of the locations for the movie "Barry Lyndon" (1975), by Stanley Kubrick.


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