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Jerpoint Newtown Medieval Settlement
 

County

Kilkenny

Coordinates

N 52° 30' 45.6"   W 007° 09' 49.6"

Nearest town

Thomastown

Grid Ref.

S 56823 40425

Map No.

67

Elevation a.s.l. (m)

27

Date of visit

Sunday 16 June 2013

GPS Accuracy (m)

3
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The view of the lost town of Jerpoint Newtown looks like a postcard.


Jerpoint Newtown was founded by a Norman lord about 1200. For centuries the town flourished and prospered until it was abandoned around 1650, when it disappeared from the records and was claimed back by the Nature which covered the place with earth and vegetation. Only in recent times it was discovered again.

St. Nicholas church was the parish church of Jerpoint Newtown, founded along with the settlement in 13th century and abandoned when the village was deserted in 17th century. It was built in three phases. Around 1200 the main section of the church, the nave and the chancel were built. About 200 years later a rood screen was added between the nave and the chancel to divide the two sections and provide a display area for a big sculpture of a crucifixion. Some years later a central tower was added above the rood screen to provide an imposing residence for the parish priest. In the chancel there's a slab commemorating William and Alice Den who died in 1623 and were probably the last two people to be buried here before the village and the church were abandoned. The slab lies flat, thus suggesting the the church was still roofed at that time.

A slab in the nearby churchyard depicts a man flanked on both sides of his head by two smaller figures. The tradition has it that this is the resting place of the remains of St. Nicholas, who died in Myra, Turkey, on December 6th, 346. His remains were brought from Turkey to Bari, in the Southern Italy, around 1070, and from here they were again removed and brought to a safer place, Ireland, that was at the very end of the Christian world. In the Christian iconography St. Nicholas is always represented flanked by two sacred figures, Christ and the Virgin. On this slab the two smaller figures are clearly of two Crusader Knights, probably the ones who brought the saint's relics over here. It was probably kind of a secret message to let people know where the saint was. The slab has no other inscription.

The remains of a tower house lie midway between the ruined church and the Little Arrigle River. There's no clue of who lived in there, but he was one of the most prominent persons in the village, with power in the economy and the politics of the town.

At the end of the town there was a water mill and not far from it there was the market square.

The land where the lost town of Jerpoint Newtown once stood is property of Joe and Maeve O'Connell who organize guided tour to the place. The lost town can only be visited with the guide by one of the owners upon the payment of a not so small fee.
We were lucky enough to be the two of us, because usually visitors come with buses, and when we arrived here a bus of tourists was leaving, and another one arrived when we finished our tour. The guided tour takes about one hour.


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