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St. Mary's Church
 

County

Kilkenny

Coordinates

N 52° 37' 44.34"   W 007° 03' 54.66"

Nearest town

Gowran

Grid Ref.

S 63286 53495

Map No.

68

Elevation a.s.l. (m)

70

Date of visit

Tuesday 16 June 2015

GPS Accuracy (m)

3
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St. Mary's church, Gowran. The east section has been re-roofed to be used as a Protestant church.


This is a massive and large church built in the 13th century on the site of an earlier church dating from 11th century, though the area is known for having several churches built in the 5th century.
It was a collegiate church, this means that the priests who were serving in this church would live in a community rather than under the rules of a monastery.
The church was named Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, but it is also known as St. Mary's church.
The structure has a central nave with two aisles in the west section, a chancel in the east section and a massive central tower.
The west gable has a wonderful three-light window with a multifoil window above it, each aisle has two-light windows in the east and west walls. The two aisles had arcades between them and the central nave, but only the north aisle still retains the arcade. The wall above this arcade has four windows, two are blocked, the other two are quatrefoil windows.
This wall and the central tower have crenellations that was added in the 15th or 16th century.
In the south wall there are a piscina and four niches for tombs that have disappeared. There's also a doorway to a south transept, but a locked gate denies the access.
A niche is also in the north wall. The nave houses a number of grave slabs, both lying and standing against the walls, and some altar tombs.
The nave is 28 metres long and 20 metres wide with the two aisles. It's aligned to the west (265°).
The chancel was rebuilt in 1826 and now is the new Protestant church of the parish.
Inside and outside the church there are a large number of carved heads.

We visited the place for the first time on June 3rd, 2001, and I have dreamed to come back to since, but I remember it was much different on that occasion.
First of all I don't remember any gates at the doorway, and I remember there were some carved effigies and interesting grave slabs in the nave.
I think that they might have been moved inside the tower or the chancel for a better protection from the elements.
Unfortunately we picked the wrong day for our visit and the church was closed to visitors. However I managed to find a way in, so I was able to take photos of the interiors.


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