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Kilree Monastic Settlement
 

County

Kilkenny

Coordinates

N 52° 31' 05.7"   W 007° 16' 07.4"

Nearest town

Callan

Grid Ref.

S 49694 40970

Map No.

67

Elevation a.s.l. (m)

84

Date of visit

Monday 17 June 2013

GPS Accuracy (m)

3
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The ruins of the church at Kilree with the round tower behind it.


Not far from the ruins of Kells monastic settlement there's a magnificent place to visit, Kilree monastic settlement with its church, the round tower and a high cross.
The ruins of these monuments are hidden in a heavily wooded spot of the countryside, and the dense vegetation gives the place a magic atmosphere, cutting away most of the surrounding world.
The church is roofless but the walls are still intact. It dates from the 10th or 11th century and stands on an earlier monastery which is said to have been founded by St. Brigid in the 6th century. The building measures 18 metres in length and 6.50 metres in width, perfectly aligned east-west.
Both ends of the church have antae, projections of the side walls of the church past the end gables. The doorway is lintelled. The west end of the church is also propped up by two stone supports. The chancel is separated from
the nave by a curtain wall with an archway. Many burials can be found inside the church, some of them are beautifully decorated.
About 7 metres from the church, to the northwest, there's the round tower, which is also roofless but otherwise intact. It has a doorway on the south (175°) side almost looking at the doorway of the church. The arched doorway of the tower is unusually low, only 1.80 metres from the ground, it measures 1.80 metres of height and 60 centimetres of width and has a moulding around it.
The tower is 29.15 metres tall, with a diameter of 4.45 metres. The top is crenellated and a number of gutters are still visible next to the top. Two windows are along the tower, one on the west side, the other one on the east side, and four windows are below the roof level.
About 55 metres west-southwest from the tower is the high cross. It's very similar to the ones in Ahenny though smaller.
Probably once it stood closer to the church and the round tower, its actual position seems a relatively recent re-positioning.
It's aligned to east-northeast (75°) and stands on a stone base which is 49 centimetres high. The cross measures 2.12 metres in height, it's 36 centimetres thick and 45 centimetres wide, its arms open at 1.09 metres.
On the top of the cross there's a tenon joint which suggests that probably the cross had a cap above it.
Around the cross and its base there's a stone pavement enclosed in a iron railing that protects them from the cattle.
The field where the cross is in is open and clear, in contrast with the dense wooded graveyard of the church and the round tower.
When we first came here on June 4th, 2001, there were several cows and a bull in this field and they surrounded us and we had to step inside the metal fence to stay safe. Then they left us alone and we were able to go back to church and to our car.


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