The small town of Castledermot in County Kildare was originally called ‘Diseart Diarmad’; meaning ‘Dermot’s Hermitage’. This was once a very important ecclesiastical center and there are many fine ruins in the area.
These include the remains of a Round Tower and High Crosses, an Abbey – a Franciscan Friary and Kilkea Castle is also nearby.
Castledermot Abbey is a ruined Franciscan friary located in the town of Castledermot, on the Carlow Road R448.
The friary represents an impressive 13th-14th century Irish Gothic architecture. It has the oldest intact stone window in Western Europe. It is today a National Monument of Ireland.
The Franciscan friary of Castledermot was founded sometime before 1247, when it received a royal grant of 15 marks from John Fitzgeoffrey, Justiciar of Ireland. It is believed that the founder was Walter de Riddlesford II, lord of the town of Thrisledermot, as the town was then known.
A previous monastery was founded on the same site by Diarmait, a son of Áed Róin, King of Ulster, in the ninth century AD.
The friary was plundered and ruined by Robert Bruce and his army, during his destructive campaign in Ireland between 1315 and 1318.
Later, in 1541, the friary was suppressed.
It was also attacked by Cromwell whose forces destroyed most of the place in 1650.
All that remains of the Castledermot Friary today is the walls of the church, which was originally a long rectangular structure with a doorway, a pair of lancet windows in the west wall and a tower on the south side. The church is complete with a large transept chapel and an unusual tower; the three small chapels within the transept chapel are much admired.
The Friary was not open to the public during my visit.
Location of Castledermot Friary:
Below my photos taken in September 2021.