April 28, 2005


Description of the Site

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The ruined and overgrown remains of the church are situated in low-lying ground, south-west of Kildare, within a sub-rectangular graveyard. The remains consist of a nave and chancel church, which had a side-chapel on the north side, and the earthwork traces of the claustral buildings in the field to the south. Austin Coopers drawing of 1791 shows that it had one, and perhaps two, shallow transepts, and the north transept opened into the north chapel.

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The fabric of church is mainly of thirteenth century date. On analogy with Kildare cathedral it would seem that the buttresses were added on the north side during the fourteenth century, probably at the time the north chapel was built, between 1316 and 1328. The east window and probably the west window were inserted in the fifteenth century. The masonry consists of roughly coursed limestone and no visible quoins or jambs are present.

The Chancel

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The gabled east wall stands to a height of about 10 metres. Both Cooper and Grose show that it had a pointed window with switchline tracery but no trace of this survives. The granite sill of what appears to be a larger window of earlier date, is present externally at the north end of the wall. The east wall buttresses have collapsed and the internal facing of the wall is missing below the window. There is a wall niche some 40 cm above present ground level in the north side of the wall. The internal ground level has been raised considerably by collapse. The north wall stands to a height of about 8 metres at its east end. It was supported by free-standing rectangular buttresses which have become dislodged from the wall with the passage of time, and are separate from it by as much as 40 cm. Traces of a weathering survive on the western two buttresses. The north wall was lit by six narrow lancets all of which are now in bad condition. Their jambs have been removed and only two retain their pointed rear arches. One splay alone remains of the eastern two lancets. One side of a cusped arch with concave and rounded moulding survives near the east end, set into the wall at ground level. The stone is tufa and the piece may be re-used. At the base of the east end wall is an opening but the internal line of the wall is recessed indicating a wall niche which would have matched that in the south wall. Almost directly overlooking the side chapel is a small splayed opening. The south wall survives in two sections. At its junction with the east wall it stands to a height of 3 metres for a distance of 3 metres. The middle section is largely rebuilt and stands to a height of 1.5 metres. The wall forms the southern boundary of the graveyard and it has been considerably refaced. Close to the east end is a shallow round arched niche 1.6 metres in length and 30 cm deep. The jambs have been removed but the niche still retains plaster.

The Northern side-chapel

Nothing remains of this chapel, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, but Coopers drawing shows that it had a pointed window. Immediately east of the chapel site is a depression, some 2 metres deep. This has a wall on its east side, 3.50 metres in length and 1.50 metres, and another on the west, 2 metres long and 2 metres high. Both walls contain a pointed arch and may form part of the monastic drain.

The Nave

The western 6 metres of the north wall stands to a height of 7 metres. There may have been a wall cupboard at the west end of the wall but a vertical section of the internal wall facing has collapsed, concealing it. Less than half of the west wall survives and the south-west corner has been entirely rebuilt. The northern half of the gable survives to a height of between 8 and 10 metres. The northern splay of the west window survives but its jambs are missing. The west end of the south wall has a maximum height of 4 metres. There are three round arched niches in the wall. The eastern one is the largest, 2.76 metres in length, 1.85 metres above present ground level and 41 cm deep. The centre recess is 2.46 metres long, 44 cm deep and 1.25 metres above ground level. The western one is 1.66 metres long, 44 cm deep and 75 cm above the ground. Externally the roofline of the cloister is visible near the western end.

The claustral remains

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These are confined to the area immediately south of the church. The main earthwork consists of a rectangular enclosure 15.5 by 4.4 metres and enclosed by grass covered wall footings c. 75 cm high. The northern bank is 1.5 metres away from the south wall of the church. Two sections of the wall foundations are exposed on the south and east. They are built of roughly coursed mortared limestone. The section on the east measures 2.5 by 0.79 metres, and is faced on both sides. It has the return of an internal cross wall 70 cm wide and 50 cm in length. In the angle between the two walls there is red brick blocking. The south end of this wall is squared off and may denote an entrance. The southern section is 4.8 (4.3?) metres long, 40 cm high and 82 cm wide.

Other features

East of the claustral remains are two mounds of unknown function. South-west of the church is a slightly raised area. In the north-west corner of the field, north-west of the church, is a large raised rectangular platform, possibly of modern origin. This platform has now been changed by works associated with the building of a shopping complex.

Friar’s Well

South-west of the friary was a pond labelled by the O.S. map as Friar’s Well. It would appear to have formed in the low lying ground on the course of a small stream. It was probably used by the friars as a source of water. It has now been removed by the works associated with the building of a new shopping complex.

Posted by adrianmullowney at 12:18 PM