25 Jul Jerpoint Abbey, County Kilkenny
Lying on the banks of the Little Arrigle just south of Thomastown, Jerpoint Abbey ranks among the finest Cistercian ruins in Ireland, despite the loss of many of its domestic buildings. Founded in about 1160, the fortified medieval complex rivalled nearby Duiske Abbey in prestige. Jerpoint flourished until the Dissolution of the Monasteries, when it passed to the Earl of Ormonde.
The 15th century cloisters have not survived as well as the abbey. Even so, they are the highlight of Jerpoint, with their amusing sculptures if knights, country ladies, bishops and dragons. The church itself is well preserved. The Irish-Romanesque transepts date back to the earliest period and contain several 16th century tombs with exquisite stylized carvings. The north side of the nave is also intact, with a rich array of decorated Romanesque capitals. There are tombs and effigies of early bishops and patrons throughout the abbey. The battlemented crossing tower was added during the 1400s.
Jerpoint Abbey is a must see attraction on your tours of Ireland.