Although time has taken its toll on the many ruins of Ireland, Jerpoint Abbey is unique for the surviving stone carvings and cloister arcade which have managed to ride out the years with surprising clarity.
Established in 1180, Jerpoint Abbey was built for the Cistercian sect of Catholic monks by the King of Osraige on the site of an earlier Benedictine monastery. The remaining ruins date from different time periods, but all of them are impressive in their ability to last; the tower dates from the 15th century, the church from the 12th, and the transept chapels vary in age. After the Dissolution of Monasteries when the last abbot, Oliver Grace, surrendered the abbey during the reign of King Henry VIII, Jerpoint was given to the 9th Earl of Ormond and became primarily a place of interment.
Among the notable carvings in the ruins are the saintly religious reliefs known as “the weepers,” and a sarcophagus that is surrounded by medieval Christian reliefs. Many of the pillars and incidental spaces in the ruined abbey are covered in similar figure carvings. The expansive cloister arcade also remains and visitors can relax among the tranquil ruins. Despite some deterioration over the centuries, the Jerpoint Abbey ruins offer as contemplative an experience to modern visitors as the abbey did to the original clergy.
Know Before You Go
2.5km south west from Thomastown on the N9. Tickets for adults are €5.00, for groups/seniors €4.00, for child/student €3.00, and family €13.00.