Duiske Abbey Church




N 52° 32' 28.5"   W 006° 57' 18.42"

Nearest town


Grid Ref.

S 70878 43832

Map No.


Elevation a.s.l. (m)


Date of visit

Tuesday 16 June 2015

GPS Accuracy (m)

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Duiske Abbey seen from the northwest.

I think that I will never understand why we didn't gather any information about this church when we came here in 2010 to visit the Crosses. We could have taken photographs and coordinates five years ago.
However, here we are again.
Duiske Abbey is probably the best preserved Cistercian abbey in Ireland, though very little of the original structure remains today.
It was founded in 1204 by William Marshall the Elder, First Earl of Pembroke. The monks that colonized the abbey came from Stanley, in Wiltshire.
The abbey has a cruciform plan with a very long and narrow nave and two transepts. The church had also an octagonal crossing tower but it collapsed in 1774, destroying most of the structure. Before the reconstruction in 1813, the nave had two side aisles with Gothic arches and two-light windows above each of them. This layout would give the church a more imponent appearance.
The building is perfectly aligned east to west (90°-270°).
Though the present building dates from early 19th century, some very interesting original details and decorations can be found inside the church, like foliage and floreal carvings that adorn the capitals.
The roof was restored in 1973 and was made using Irish oak and elm timber. It was reconstructed following the medieval technique, using wedges and dowels, and no nails.
One of the most fascinating feature of this abbey is the 13th century effigy of a knight in his mail clad, carved out of a stone block and rich in details. It is now kept in a room about 2 metres below the modern floor level. This was the original level of the church floor. The effigy shows a knight grabbing his sword with both hands, his legs are crossed, like the effigy at Kilfane, and this should mean that the man to whom this grave belonged had been on the Crusades. His legs are broken and his feet are missing.
In the same room there are an alabaster baptismal font and a magnificent 13th century Processional doorway. This is referred to as the most highly decorated Processional doorway to survive in Ireland after the Reformation. The tiles on the floor of this room are the original tiles from 1250.

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