What with a soft blue sky filled with sportive fluffy white clouds which were backlit by sunshine and some real warmth in the air, last Saturday felt like the end of the current glacial age had finally arrived. The meteorological deities had, for once, come up trumps as last Saturday was also the day I planned to make a return trip to Kilkenny. It’s less than two months since I was last there so I wouldn’t normally have returned so soon except that I needed to collect a ceramic tree I bought, on my recent trip, at the Future Beauty exhibition in the National Craft Gallery.
Kilkenny and back is roughly a four-hour round trip from my home but instead of zinging there and back, like a mad boomerang, by the faster direct and relentlessly monotonous motorway route I decided that I would meander there by an indirect route: half motorway and half cross-country roads. This would enable me to stop for lunch in Thomastown, a small market town on the banks of the Nore river, and after lunch to see and explore the remains of the 12th century Jerpoint Abbey which is just a few kilometres outside the town.
Jerpoint Abbey didn’t disappoint. It was my first visit and I was expecting a Heathcliff-esque wild romantic ruin. Yes, it’s the romantic remains of a standing for centuries Cistercian Abbey but it’s far from wild as it’s extremely well-tended by the OPW (Office of Public Works: a government department).
I had the place almost to myself and it was as peaceful as a deserted wood as I wandered around the cloistered garth, drinking in the splendour of the place and admiring the legerdemain of the stone masons of yesterday year. All seemed well with the world, in my imagination I heard the voices of the monks chanting their office and this mingled with the real sound of birdsong. I imagined the austere monks living in harmony with nature and each other. However my tranquil vision of monastic life, back in the day, was somewhat shattered when I read the following in an OPW leaflet outlining Jerpoint Abbey’s history:
‘In 1217 the abbot of Jerpoint was deposed for instigating the “Riot of Jerpoint” in which four other Irish abbots were involved, during an official visitation. This was part of a of a power struggle within the Cistercian Order between the Anglo-Norman abbots and the Irish Abbots which culminated int the “Conspiracy of Mellifont” when all the Irish abbots were deposed.’
Not quite the meditative monastic idyll then!
I travelled on in to Kilkenny city, I only stayed for a short time, just long enough to pick up my ceramic tree and to admire the new exhibitions on at the National Craft Gallery. Then it was back in the car for the journey home stopping en route in the charming village of Inistioge for tea and slice of coffee cake.
And the ceramic tree (by Susan O’Byrne) what’s it like? Visual above.
20 responses to “To Kilkenny City via Jerpoint Abbey”
It does look a peaceful spot, but it just goes to show… never can trust those monks!
You sure can’t! Thanks for your comment Jo.
I like your idea of taking a longer but more interesting route – it looked like a lovely day too!
It was a lovely day but sadly the weather has reverted to greyness since Saturday.
It’s nice to have memories of Ireland brought to the fore. I had a similar response at Jerpoint Abbey, but I didn’t read the brochure!
It’s nice to hear you had a similar response to Jerpoint Abbey. The story about the dissent all those centuries ago makes me wonder how many other tales the ruin could tell. Thanks for your comment.
I’ll have to tell my parents about Jerpoint Abbey as they’re spending a week in Ireland next month in this area. Lovely images as always and I love the little tree 🙂
I hope your parents have a really great time in Ireland. I don’t know the area well but it seems there’s lots of interesting things to do and see. Thank you for your compliment on the images. 😉
i can’t believe it’s your first time in jerpoint abbey but hey, there’s a start for everything. inistioge is lovely, if you have the chance, go up on top of the hill, lovely gardens, something like powerscourt. and don’t forget to bring the camera 😉
Thanks for the tip about the gardens. And no I hadn’t seen Jerpoint abbey before, still it’s never too late! I agree Inistioge is gorgeous. 😉
you’re more than welcome. if you go from kilkenny towards waterford, just before the bridge in inistioge, take right and go up the hill, as much as you can, you will end up in the gardens
Thanks for that.
Wonderful detour to Thomastown, nice photographs and… a lovely ceramic tree, B! 🙂 Well done!
Thanks Stefano. Normally I drive non-stop to my destination (provided it’s not too far away) but stopping in Thomastown was a good idea as it gave me the chance to explore, a little, a part of the country I don’t know very well.
And a very pretty one, I have to say!
You took some great pictures. Apparently all that peace and tranquility at Jerpoint Abbey led to riots and conspiracies.
Yes isn’t it amazing what an abundance of peace and tranquility can lead to! Thanks for the compliment on the photos.
Beautiful! I love places like this; even when the memories they contain might be far less than soothing they can, in their emptier and history-softened state, be places of meditation and renewal for us later visitors.
Yes, it was a meditative place so peaceful on the day I visited. I love your phrase ‘history-softened state’ it’s so evocative, time does have a way of blurring the bad.
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