Jerpoint Abbey

Jerpoint Abbey tour

Pat The Fox Man and I set off on our historical tour. Pat has never been in Jerpoint Abbey before, and it was fantastic that he had got a tour guide to himself. I and my camera were trailing behind them.

In the pictures: Pat Gibbons and his tour guide Margaret Brophy. I was delighted that Pat had such a knowledgeable guide. Their conversation went beyond the history of the abbey to the history of the whole parish.

Originally a Benedictine monastery built in 1160, Jerpoint Abbey was affiliated to the Cistercian Order in 1180. Scholars believe that Domnall I, the king of Ossory who died in 1176, was possibly the founder of the monastery. This is supported by a charter of King John to Jerpoint Abbey confirming the lands granted by Domnall. The grant happened before Strongbow arrived in Leinster in 1170.

The restoration works are on in the abbey. Some areas are fenced and the north aisle is closed.

You can see the scaffolding in the north isle, behind the arcade of pointed arches supported by large piers. There are six arches, with different design on each pier. Margaret and Pat are walking to the Romanesque west nave – the lay brothers’ choir. It is the place where the lay brothers gathered to attend Mass. The nave originally had an arcaded aisle on both sides. There is a special room in the museum where all the broken pieces of masonry – particularly the parts of arches and piers –  are stored and can be viewed by the visitors.

The west nave window comprises of three round-headed lights.

The Monk’s choir is the east part of the nave.

This is what the windows look like in the morning light from the main road.

The crossing tower above the intersection of the chancel, nave and transept was added in the 15th century. Towers were not allowed by the Order’s authority at the time the monastery was built. The rib vaulting of the tower’s ceiling is well preserved. The pointed arches open to the nave, chancel and both transepts. Each transept has two chapels on the east side.

There are a tomb and funeral slabs in the crossing.

I went to the north transept to check out the chapels. And this is what I found.

Of course I stuck there for a long time watching the mama swallow and her “yellow-lipped” babies.

There is something else quite amazing in the chapels – beautifully carved tomb weepers decorating the mensa-tomb chests. In the picture below you see six weepers – the apostles who can be recognized by the attributes related to the manner of their martyrdom. From the left: St John with a chalice; St Thomas with a lance; St Simon with a saw; St Bartholomew with skin – it is believed he was flayed alive; St Paul holding a sword, and St Matthew an axe. The carvings were made by the sculptor Rory O’Tunney of Callan.

These weepers are St Catherine of Alexandria with a wheel, St Michael the Archangel in the centre, and St Margaret of Antioch wearing a ring broach and stomping on a dragon’s head.

I left the chapels and went to the presbytery to admire the ancient wall paintings.

In the image below, you see three tomb niches in the wall under the painted fragment. It is where two tomb effigies from the next picture were originally placed.

The tomb effigy in background represents Felix O’Dulany, the first Abbot of Jerpoint praised for his ‘zeal, charity and prudence’.  The other effigy (foreground) possibly represents Donal O’Fogarty, another bishop of the Diocese of Ossory.

Bishop O’Dulany died in 1202. They say ‘many miracles were wrought by him’. The face of the effigy is badly worn: it was believed that pilgrims touching the face would be cured of their illnesses.

This is a 15-16th century wall painting after the restoration works. You can see the fragments of two shields with the scallop shells and wild boars – four shells and possibly four boars. Scallop shells represent St James and are the symbol of pilgrimage. I am not sure about the boars. Usually they represent ferocity and power. I should have listened to Margaret’s explanation instead of looking for birds 🙂

The abbey is famous for its large number of stone carvings untypical for a Cistercian monastery. You will find amusing figures of animals and fantastic creatures, knights, damsels, monks and smiling bishops carved on the piers. There are so many carvings that when you come again you will find something new you haven’t seen before.

The west part of the cloister arcade is well preserved. You will find many lay and religious carvings there, and learn about the armor and clothing worn at the times.

The famous ‘man with the stomach ache’.

View of the tower from the west side of the cloister arcade.

The south part of the cloister arcade also survive.

This part of the arcade would support the roof over the buildings like refectory (dining room) and calefactory (warming house) which are long gone.

As you see in the picture, there is an upper floor that can be reached from the south transept. It is where the monks’ dormitory was located. I want to return to the abbey next year, so I leave the upper floor for my future blog post.

Beautiful Gothic east window dates from the 14 century. You can see the outer halves of two old Romanesque windows – originally a triple window.

Clicking on this link you will find a detailed map of the abbey.

The graves around the abbey date from centuries ago to the present time.

We visited Jerpoint Abbey on a fine sunny day. I want to share a different mood – a poem written by Waterford-born journalist Samuel Carter Hall in 1823, and a series of photographs taken on a gray and foggy morning – all of this in the article written by an author and lecturer Robert O’Byrne.

You have visited one of the finest historical places in Co Kilkenny. Our day out isn’t over yet. It continues to the next blog post 🙂

Have a wonderful weekend!

A day out with The Fox Man

I promised Pat Gibbons, The Fox Man, to take him to the Jerpoint Abbey some day. Pat lives outside Thomastown, five minute drive from the abbey, but he has never been there before. It took me a while, but I finally came over to pick him up a couple of weeks ago. It is when I learned that beautiful Gráinne, the fox perching on Pat’s shoulder, has died in her sleep, apparently of old age. Gráinne was twelve – it is how long the domesticated foxes can live. In the wild, however, they live 1-5 years.

Gráinne was Pat’s first fox. Pat’s brother-in-law found her dying inside a cardboard box, weighing just a pound. Since that day, Gráinne has had an amazing life – from the point of view of both a fox, and a human 🙂 She was a happy fox, never short of fruitcakes and vine gums 🙂 She starred in 12 movies! 

I asked Pat if there was a grave, on which he replied that he took her from the Nature, and returned her back to the Nature. There was an old tree with a big hole under the roots, he said, so he put Gráinne’s body in that hole.

Run free, beautiful!

Pat Gibbons foxes

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Pat went to the pen to get Henry. Henry’s left eye never recovered and seems blind.

We took a few pictures.

 

 

Now it is Minnie’s turn to pose for a picture. Sweet old Minnie. She is ten this year.

 

Pat and his brother decided that we take a family picture of Minnie and their new dog.

This was the best we could get. All the dog wanted to do was either sniff Minnie’s butt or run to the road to watch my car in case it starts moving.

I hope to see you when I come again, Minnie.

The day continues. In my next blog post, we will visit some historical places with Pat The Fox Man.

There are some links for those who want to hear the fox story: 2014    2015   2015  2017   2018

www.inesemjphotography Have a wonderful weekend!

Abbeys and Churches

Mount Melleray

Today I want to share photographs taken over the years in some of Co Waterford and Co Kilkenny Abbeys and Churches that you might put on your itinerary.

Mount Melleray Abbey near Cappoquin Co Waterford was established in 1829-1832. Sir Richard Keane of Cappoquin offered some land at the foot of the Knockmealdowns to Cistercian monk Dom Vincent, and the Abbey was built on this site. The foundation stone was laid in 1833 by Sir Richard, but only one hundred years later, in 1933, the present Abbey church was built using the limestone blocks of the burnt and demolished Mitchelstown Castle. The church was completed in 1940.

The Abbey is open for photographers, worshipers, and people who are looking for peace.

Mount Melleray

Mount Melleray

Mount Melleray

I cannot be sure, but I think the name tag on the Confessional is of Father Francis Carton who entered the Cistercian Order at Mount Melleray Abbey in 1951 and died in 2014.

Mount Melleray

Stained glass window reflecting cheerful Christmasy light.

Mount Melleray

This window has unusual look.

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The sacramental wine in the wonderfully elaborated chalices is ready for the mass.

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Mount Melleray

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If you want to learn more about the monks of Mount Melleray Abbey, please read this blog post . It belongs to Gerry Andrews, famous Irish photographer from Limerick.

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This beautiful path takes you to the graveyard.

Mount Melleray

This road takes you nowhere – it ends just behind the trees. You can travel to the Abbey from Newcastle or Clogheen crossing the Knockmealdown mountains (both very spectacular routes), or from N 72 and R 669 if driving from Waterford or Cork. There are two places you can stop by, just two kilometers from the Abbey – Melleray Grotto and The Cats Bar where you can have a meal.

Mount Melleray

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Another famous Cistercian abbey lies  in ruins at the side of the Old Waterford road near Thomastown, Co Kilkenny.  It is Jerpoint Abbey, originally founded in 1180 on a nearly three acre old monastic site, and closed in 1540, after the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII.  Beautiful and majestic, it has been in protection of the Office of Public Works since 1880 when it was declared a National Monument. There is a new Visitor center and a paid parking lot – the only available parking lot. Outside the opening hours, you might have a problem to stop your car even for a simple snap through your car window.

Jerpoint Abbey is famous for its ancient stone carvings that deserve a separate blog post.

Jerpoint Abbey

Jerpoint Abbey

This building is also a National Monument, but it is not completely in ruins, and it is not an abbey. It was built on the site of the early Christian monastery in 1269 AD, just a century after Jerpoint Abbey, and functioned as a Collegiate Church, which meant that it was administered by a college of priests. In the 14th century a tower and expansion were added, but the church was left to decay after the Dissolution. Only in the 19th century, the part on the left from the tower was rebuilt, and since then half of the building is in use as a Church of Ireland parish church of St Mary’s. This absolutely beautiful and well preserved ruin stands surrounded by the manicured landscape in the Main Street of Gowran, Co Kilkenny.

Mary's Church

Gigantic walls, arches and naves, fine stonework and many interesting tombstones are truly fascinating and will keep you busy taking photographs for a good while.

Mary's Church

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Clonegam church stands away from the busy roads and villages and has one of the most beautiful vistas in front of it – I will return there for more photographs some day. The church was built in 1741 and renovated every 50 years until 1893. Inside it resembles a family mausoleum rather than a regular church, and I was very hesitant to share the pictures of the church interior I have got.

church

I will only share two of my photographs, because I have seen similar photographs on the internet before, so I won’t be the first person to expose them to the public.

In this photograph, the first monument, the one in granite, as the epitaph says, is to the memory of ‘The Most Noble Henry de la Poer Beresford third Marquis of Waterford, who died in 1859 aged 47’.  The marble tomb is a monument to ‘The Rev. John de la Poer Beresford fourth Marquis of Waterford, who died in 1866’.

churc

The monument in this photograph is very special. It provides most of the light in the church as it is lit by a skylight in the roof. The monument is dedicated to the wife of the fifth Marquis of Waterford, Florence. She died in childbirth, and her grief stricken husband commissioned this monument made from Kilkenny marble.

church

Thank you for taking this historical walk with me. After admiring majestic architecture, fine masonry and sculptures, I think I will share photographs of some cute creatures in my next blog post 🙂

inesemjphotography  Have a wonderful weekend!