Holy Trinity Priory

AKA Fethard Augustinian Abbey

The Augustinian Abbey complex at Fethard was founded in c.1306 on land granted to them by Walter Mulcote. The friars remained at Fethard until the dissolution of the monastery in 1540. All that remains of the complex today is a multi-period structure that was substantially rebuilt as a Catholic Church in 1823, shortly after the friars returned to Fethard. This nave and chancel church is 38 metres long and had a Lady Chapel running at right angles from the north wall, see top image.

Lying against the external north gable of the, now roofless, ruin of the chapel is a wonderful selection of 17th century graveslabs. There is another chapel attached to the south wall of the chancel. I was unable to gain access to the church on this visit but I am looking forward to viewing the interior on my return to Fethard. I believe the are some excellent original carvings inside the church. There are several masks inside the church. The south wall features a fine stained glass window designed by Harry Clarke. The sculpted head, pictured left, is on the north wall of the modern sacristy. Do not forget to view the sheela-na-gig located on a wall extending east from the church.


There were four Sheela-na-gigs in Fethard up until 1990. This example is one of the two Sheelas in the town, the other, town sheela, is on Watergate Street. There is a third sheela-na-gig at Kiltinan Castle and sadly the fourth, and some say finest example, was stolen from Kiltinan Church in 1990. This sheela was probably moved to its present location from the 13th century abbey church. The Sheela is similar to the Watergate figure, it has incised ribs and striations on the cheeks, but there is no genitalia present. Some people suggest the figure has been doctored and the right arm and genitalia have been removed, but there is no clear evidence to prove this theory. The left arm rests on the abdomen. Gabriel Cannon suggests there maybe a baby like figure between the legs, implying a birthing scene. see http://www.irelands-sheelanagigs.org

Situated: At the east of the town on the corner of Abbeyville and Abbey Street, just a short walk from the Main Street.

Discovery Map 67: S 2102 3499. Last visit June 2015.

Longitude: 7° 41' 26"

Latitude: 52° 27' 58" N

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Photos: Jim Dempsey.