Monday 25th April 3.30pm
Jerpoint Abbey, Thomastown, Co Kilkenny, 12th Century
Jerpoint Abbey has been a national monument since 1880. It is located just outside the beautiful village of Thomastown in Co. Kilkenny and was built in 1180 as a Cistercian Abbey by the King of Osraige on the site of an even earlier Benedictine monastery. It is notable for its imposing central tower and it’s sculpted cloister arcades which can be seen in the image. The stone carvings, many of which are oddly humorous, depict knights, ladies, bishops, dragons and even a man with a stomach ache! Jerpoint became a ‘favorite place’ of sepulchre (where people chose to be buried) and all the great families from the surrounding counties were vying to end up in this place! The abbey flourished until King Henry VIII began the ‘Dissolution of the Monasteries’ between 1536 – 51. After this period of unrest it was granted to James Butler (the 9th Earl Earl of Ormond) in 1541.
We had a ‘St Francis of Assizi’ experience here when our Oneness-Dream soloist began to sing – remarkably, scores of ravens suddenly converged upon the castle as though in response to his songs, lining the battlements and turrets and high stone walls, their heads cocked and listening. Then then they began their own accompanying performance, much chortling and cawing and whistling, a wonderful avian chorus all but drowning out the robust voice of our Scottish baritone. We were all smiles at this collaboration of voices, as though mother nature herself was participating in this symphony of joy.
Monday 25th April 5.00pm
St Mary’s Cathedral, Kilkenny, Co Kilkenny, 19th Century
St. Mary’s Cathedral is situated on the highest point in Kilkenny City and dominates the landscape with it’s beautiful 186 foot tower. Before the arrival of Cromwell in 1650, the Catholic congregation of Kilkenny celebrated mass in the ancient church of St. Canice’s. After this, St. Canice’s reverted to Protestant hands and the Catholics had no cathedral. A small chapel in St. Mary’s parish – St. James’s Chapel, built in 1700 functioned as the church and the cathedral. It was William Kinsella, who was appointed Bishop of Ossory at the age of 33, who initiated the building of St. Mary’s in 1842. Work began in 1843 and did not finish until after the famine in 1857, and so provided much needed work. The Cathedral houses a statue of Our Lady by the sculptor Benzoni who also sculpted the O’Connell Monument in the Irish College in Rome.