Monday, August 10, 2009

The old Abbey in Ballinskelligs, Co. Kerry

Ballinskelligs Abbey was founded as a Priory of the Arroasian Canons of the Order of St. Augustine in 1210 A.D.
There had been a strong movement in Irish monasteries since the 6th century, a lot of them in outflung places like Skellig Michael, where the monks lived as hermits or in small groups to worship Christ under extreme conditions.
Eventually bigger and more centrally situated places were founded to suit the needs of a wider community not only to take part in contemplative religious activities but also in education and charity.
Between the 13th and the 15th century a number of buildings were added to the priory, sadly they were soon to fall in disrepair when because of the Reformation and the English rule many monasteries and abbeys were closed and the land was granted to loyal servants of the new powers from 1578.
The close proximity of the sea also played its part in destruction and erosion of the buildings, as there were a Church with nave, chancel and a tower; the two storey Prior´s House, a Refectory connected to the church by a cloister and other smaller buildings.
Still, burials took part within and between the ruins until quite recently.
Today the Office of Public Works is doing some conservation work to stop an ongoing erosion and to preserve this important heritage site in south Kerry.