Kilnalahan Priory Church




N 53° 06' 09.7"   W 008° 23' 34.1"

Nearest town


Grid Ref.

M 73741 05833

Map No.


Elevation a.s.l. (m)


Date of visit

Tuesday 11 September 2012

GPS Accuracy (m)

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The ruins of Kilnalahan Priory from the southwest

This priory is also known with the names of Kilnaleghin, Kinaleckin, Kineleckin and Kenaloyn. They all come from the original Irish name Cinéal Feichín, meaning "the Tribe of Feichin", and Kilnalahan became the current name for the place.

Between 1249 and 1256 John de Colgan founded a Carthusian (Order of St. Bruno) House at this place, the only one of this kind in all Ireland.
The Carthusian Order had a very contemplative way of life, the daily activities were mainly praying and spiritual reading.
The main supporter of this religious Order was Richard Óg de Burgh, 2nd Earl of Ulster and 3rd Baron of Connaught, also called the Red Earl, but when Richard, tired of fighting, left his title to his grandson William Donn de Burgh, and retired to Athassel Abbey, the monks started feeling unsafe, and by decree of the General Chapter the priory was abandoned in 1321. The younger monks were sent to other Carthusian Houses in England, the older monks stayed at Kilnalahan.
Around 1370 the de Burgo family granted the use of the buildings to the Friars Minor Franciscan Order, who settled at the priory in 1390, and the patrons showed to be great benefactors of the religious community. Despite this generosity, the new Order wasn't receiving the same support as the Carthusians, so the friars had to live on the donations from the locals.
The priory was secluded and of no interest for the Crown, so the building didn't undergo the confiscation during the suppression of the monastic orders under king Henry VIII.
Nonetheless the friary was heavily damaged during the attack and pillage of the troops of sir John Bingham, and in 1611 all the friars were evicted.

The ruins of the church and the cloister may date from the 15th or 16th century. In the south transept there are some interesting 17th century graves, but the access is denied by a padlocked gate.

During our visit we saw a hedgehog wandering in the cloister. Since these animals are nocturnal, I think that it was in distress, but I didn't know what to do to help it.
I also found a dead crow nestling hanging from its nest in the south transept...

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