Clane Abbey

Franciscan Friary

The abbey was probably founded by Gerald Fitzmaurice Fitzgerald in 1258. It became an important establishment under the Franciscan order and in 1345 a general charter was held here. After the spread of the plague, the Black Death, throughout europe in the middle of the fourteenth century and finally the dissolution of the monasteries, between 1536-1541, the abbey fell into disrepair. The lands were confiscated and some of the buildings were destroyed. Some of the stonework was used to repair Maynooth Castle.

The remains are poorly preserved and consist of a nave and chancel church, with a south aisle that was added in the 15th century. The overall length of the church is c.43 metres E-W by 8 metres wide. The west gable and south wall of the, 26 metre long, nave no longer survive. There are few features remaining, apart from some moulding in the east gable that may have been part of a series of lancet windows. The recess in the south wall is probably a sedelia, the ground level is probably higher now. All the other windows have been robbed out. The structure is quite stark but interesting from an historical point of view. There is a norman motte situated about 200 metres south of the abbey.

The fragment of an effigy, situated in a recess in the south wall of the chancel, is said to be of Gerald Fitzmaurice Fitzgerald, 4th Earl of Offaly, 1277-1287. Who is credited with being the founder of the Friary at Clane, see above. It is also believed he finished the Grey Abbey in Kildare Town. The limestone torso is missing the upper chest and the legs are also missing. A piece of chain mail can be seen at the bottom of the effigy underneath the tunic and the scabbard for his sword is also visible.

Situated: On Abbeylands in the centre of the town. There is ample car parking at the east end of the abbey.

Discovery Map 49: N 8782 2734. Last visit July 2018.

Longitude: 6° 40' 59" W

Latitude: 53° 17' 21" N

Google Map

Photos: Jim Dempsey

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