Kells, County Kilkenny

The Augustinian priory of Kells – in full, Kells-in-Ossory (or Ceanannas Osraighe), to distinguish it from its more famous namesake in County Meath – was founded by Geoffrey FitzRobert in 1183, shortly after the Anglo-Norman invasion. It was to house the monks he brought to Ireland from Bodmin in Cornwall. For safety, later monks surrounded their 5 acres with a wall that would not have disgraced a castle, and added defensive towers for good measure.

The priority church, domestic buildings, chapels and prior’s castle, all built after the 12th century in grey stone, now lie in ruins, approached through a sloping meadow. There are numerous High Crosses, and on the slopes behind is a peaceful little stream.

Kells is a hidden gem that is worth a visit while on your Ireland tour.