Kells Priory (Irish: Prióireacht Cheanannais ) is one of the largest and most impressive medieval monuments in Ireland.

The Augustine priory located next to the King River next to the village of Kells, about 15 km south of the medieval city of Kilkenny. Priory is a national monument and is in the guardianship avmyndigheten of Public Works. One of its most striking feature is a collection of medieval tower house placed at regular intervals and the walls that enclose an area of about 3 acres (12,000 m 2 ). These give Priory appearance more of a fortress than a place of worship, and from them, their local name “Seven castles”.

4 km southeast of The Priory on the R697 regional road is Kilree round tower and 9th century High Cross, said to be the burial place Niall Caille. It was used in the film Barry Lyndon as the site of the English Redcoat camps. [1]


Kells Priory was founded by Geoffrey FitzRobert in 1193. FitzRobert was the brother-in-law of Strongbow and priory succeeded an earlier church dedicated to St. Mary, Virgin and worked as a church to the nearby Kells village.

During its first century and a half Priory was attacked and burned on three occasions, first by Lord William de Bermingham in 1252, the Scottish army Edward Bruce on Palm Sunday 1326, and a second William de Bermingham in 1327. It seems likely then that the walls and fortifications date back to this period of unrest.


1324 Bishop of Ossory Richard de Ledrede paid a lenten visit to the priory.After an inquisition into a Kilkenny sect of heretics, Alice and William Kyteler was Outlawe ordered to appear before the bishop to answer accusations of witchcraft. Outlaw was supported by Arnold de PAOR, Lord of Kells who arrested the Bishop and had him imprisoned in Kilkenny Castle for 17 days. This caused great scandal and on his release the Bishop successfully prosecuted heretics. Alice Kyteler fled to England and stayed there, Alice Smith also escaped, but her mother Petronilla de Meath became Ireland’s first heretics being burned at the stake.

Resolution of Kells Priory finally took place in March 1540 the church and the property was handed over to James Butler, 9th Earl of Ormonde.


Priory is divided into two parts, an inner Monas precinct along the river and a large outer shell of the south. In the fifteenth century, was later called Villa Prioris but recently it has been known that Burgher Court, or Burgess Burgess Court. Burgess Court assumed here because it best reflects the purpose for which it was constructed. In the past, Burgess Court to have been the site of the medieval district of Kell but modern research has shown that this was not the case. all monastic remains today are grouped together in Precinct while Burgess Court is little more than a walled area populated by tourists and sheep.


Tom Fanning, a state archaeologist and then leading archeology lecturer in NUI Galway began an excavation of the area in 1972, his work was completed by Miriam Clyne after Mr. Fanning’s death in 1993. excavations is one of the largest ever undertaken in Ireland a convent house and Publication of Clyne (2007), Kells Priory, Co. Kilkenny Archaeological excavations by T. Fanning & M. Clyne , is one of the largest ever published on a rustic medieval place. [2]

There were some 20,000 archaeological finds ranging from parts of carved stone, ceramics, including Ham Green, floor and ridge tiles, metal objects and a collection of stained window glass that has enabled rebuilding what some of window designs may have looked like. The original Priory Church was a simple cross building, but was extended in almost all directions, including fifteenth century second enclosure.


  • Patrick Barrett

See also

  • List of abbeys and priories in Ireland (Kilkenny)


  1. Jump up ^ -Barry Lyndon filming locations
  2. Jump up ^ Gormley launches Kells Priory publication

further reading

  • Clyne, Miriam (2007), Kells Priory, Co. Kilkenny: arkeologiska utgrävningar av T. Fanning & M. Clyne , Dublin : Irlands regering , ISBN  0-7557-7582-1
  • Barry, Terence B. (1988), The Archaeology of Medieval Irland , Routledge, ISBN  0-415-01104-3