Categories of Special Interest
Archaeological, Architectural, Artistic, Historical, Social, Technical
In Use As
1220 - 1230
Detached two-bay double-height Dominican abbey, founded 1225, with two-bay double-height lean-to lower aisle to south. Extended, c.1325, comprising four-bay double-height transept to south having four-bay double-height lean-to lower aisle to west. Renovated, 1505, with single-bay three-stage tower added to west on a square plan. Renovated, 1527, with single-bay three-stage tower added to crossing on a square plan. Repaired, 1543. Subsequently in use as courthouse, post-1543. In ruins, pre-1778. Rededicated, 1778. Repaired, 1816. Extensively renovated, 1859-66/7, with single-bay single-storey gabled projecting porch added to aisle to west. Renovated, 1977-9, with interior remodelled. Pitched slate roofs behind parapets (including to tower to west; lean-to to side aisles; gabled to porch) with clay ridge tiles, cut-stone coping to gable to porch having cross finial to apex, and cast-iron rainwater goods on cut-limestone eaves. Roof to tower to crossing not visible behind parapet. Random rubble stone walls (broken coursed tooled cut-limestone walls to aisle to south and to porch) with squared limestone corner piers to south having cut-limestone chamfered capping, rubble stone Irish battlemented advanced parapets on cut-limestone corbels (forming corbel table), dressed limestone quoins to corners to tower to crossing, Irish battlemented advanced parapet having cut-limestone coping, and battlemented corner 'turrets'. Pointed-arch window openings with cut-limestone surrounds, mullions and tracery (forming bipartite or tripartite trefoil-headed arrangements with decorative overlights to arches), hood mouldings over (some supporting squared limestone voussoirs), and fixed-pane fittings having diamond-leaded glazing or leaded stained glass panels. Pointed-arch window opening (1332?) to south with cut-limestone surround, Y-mullions forming five-part pointed-arch arrangement having trefoils and quatrefoils over to arch, and fixed-pane fittings having leaded stained glass panels, 1892. Trefoil-headed window openings to tower to west with cut-limestone surrounds having chamfered reveals, and fixed-pane fittings. Pointed-arch window opening to tower to crossing with cut-limestone surround having chamfered reveals, hood moulding over supporting squared limestone voussoirs, mullions and tracery forming four-part trefoil-headed arrangement having trefoils and quatrefoils over to arch, and fixed-pane fittings having leaded stained glass panels. Pointed-arch or square-headed slit-style apertures to upper stages with cut-stone surrounds, and fixed-pane fittings. Pointed-arch door opening to tower to west with cut-limestone surround supporting rubble stone voussoirs, and tongue-and-groove timber panelled double doors. Pointed-arch door opening to aisle to south with cut-limestone surround having chamfered reveals, hood moulding over on decorative corbels supporting limestone ashlar voussoirs, and timber panelled double doors. Full-height interior open into roof remodelled, 1977-9, with exposed random rubble stone construction, pointed-arch arcade to aisles on cut-stone columns having moulded capitals, chamfered reveals, rubble stone voussoirs, and exposed timber roof construction on cut-limestone corbels. Set in own grounds with concrete brick cobbled courtyard to west, and landscaped grounds to east having limestone ashlar boundary wall with chamfered coping supporting decorative iron railings.
A picturesque edifice representing an important element of the archaeological heritage of Kilkenny with the complex form and massing of the abbey attesting to a period of evolution spanning eight centuries from the inception by William Marshall The Younger (d. 1231), Earl of Pembroke for the Dominican Friars. The present composition resulting from a comprehensive redevelopment programme completed under the direction of James Joseph McCarthy (1817-82) retains a collection of cut-stone dressings exhibiting the tradition of high quality stone masonry in the locality. Although subsequent renovation works following the Second Vatican Council (1963-5) have not had a wholly positive bearing on the appearance of the interior delicate stained glass panels of artistic design distinction enhance the aesthetic appeal of the site including the renowned Rosary Window (1892) by the Franz Mayer Company of Munich, altar fittings executed by C. Harvey (n. d.) exhibit a robust quality, while a reconstructed roof represents a technical or engineering achievement of sorts. The abbey remains of additional importance for the associations with the sixteenth-century Cromwellian campaign together with the subsequent brief historic use as a courthouse.