One very unmistakable monument dating back to pre-historical times is the great Dolmen at Browneshill to the east of Carlow town. The Dolmen has a granite capstone weighing about 100 tonnes. It is thought that religious rites, possibly even human sacrifices were performed there for four and a half thousand years (2500 B.C.). Situated 3km from Carlow Town on the Hacketstown Road. Access is direct from car park.
Hacketstown Road (R726), Carlow, County CarlowHaroldstown Dolmen. A well-preserved example of a portal dolmen consisting of two slightly tilted capstones supported by ten vertical stones, two of which acted as the "door" to the tomb. The dolmen is located near Tullow, off the R727. Access is direct, but on private land.
Haroldstown Dolmen, Tullow, County Carlow.
All year round; tours by prior arrangement.
Although there is evidence that there were priests already on site serving the nearby mediaeval parish church, Geoffrey FitzRobert de Marisco brought four Augustinian Canons from Cornwall to establish Kells Priory in 1193. It suffered many vicissitudes in a turbulent period, when it was sacked twice, once in 1252 and again in 1327.
After the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII in 1540-41, the priory, together with a substantial proportion of its lands, was granted to James, Earl of Ormond, but continued to elect priors well into the following century. In the time of Cromwell, the strength of the barony was further dissipated and the once thriving mediaeval settlement that had built up around the foundation went into permanent decline. The existing extensive ruin mostly dates from the 14th and 15th centuries. It consists of a church, a chapel, prior's residence or sacristy, and a number of domestic buildings, all standing on an enclosed site of some 4 acres.
Kells Priory, Kells, County Kilkenny.
t: +353 (0)56 7728255
Duiske Abbey, now the Catholic parish church, but once the church of a 13th century Cistercian monastery, founded in 1204, the remains of which have been incorporated into the building. The name derives from the Gaelic for Black Water – dubh uisce – a river that joins the Barrow a little downstream of the abbey. Duiske Abbey, the largest of Irish Cistercian monastery churches and whose buildings encompassed much of the town, began to fall apart in 1536 when it was suppressed. Although the monks continued to occupy it for many years, it gradually fell into ruin. The last tragedy was in 1744, when the tower collapsed into the nave. However, the debris from the tower was smoothed over to create a new floor and the west end was re-roofed to make a place of worship for the Protestant Church of Ireland. In 1812 the church was returned to the Catholic community and the long work of restoration began – to be completed finally in the 1980's.
Duiske Abbey, Graiguenamanagh, County Kilkenny
t: +353 (0)59 9724238
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