Ireland is dotted with several impressive ruined Cistercians abbeys like Duiske Abbey, Dunbrody Abbey, Tintern Abbey, and Baltinglass Abbey. And Jerpoint Abbey is one of the most intact and most complete Irish Cistercian monasteries with remarkable stone carvings.
Jerpoint Abbey is located close to the river Nore, 2.5km from the medieval town of Thomastown in County Kilkenny.
Founded in the second half of the 12th century, Jerpoint Abbey is one of the best examples of a medieval Cistercian Abbey in Ireland.
Jerpoint Abbey was constructed in 1180, by Donchadh Ó Donnchadha Mac Giolla Phátraic, the King of Osraige. It was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin.
The present ruins are very extensive and display some specimens of the later Norman passing into the early English style of architecture. Jerpoint is notable for its stone carvings, including one at the tomb of Felix Ua Duib Sláin, Bishop of the Diocese of Ossory. The abbey flourished until the Dissolution of the Monasteries by the English king Henry VIII.
The architectural styles within the church, constructed in the late twelfth century, reflect the transition from Romanesque to Gothic architecture. The tower and cloister date to the fifteenth century.
There is a well-proportioned, square, embattled tower. The church with its Romanesque details dates from the 12th century. In the transept chapels are 13th to 16th-century tomb sculptures. The tower and cloister date from the 15th century. In the Abbey is the sculptured cloister arcade with unique carvings.
The cloister contains an almost unparalleled wealth of sculpture, where saints, religious figures, courtly ladies, knights, and fantastical beasts like dragons and manticores can all be seen, some carved with a sense of humor that one might not expect in an austere Cistercian abbey.
Jerpoint Abbey has been declared a National Monument and has been in the care of the Office of Public Works since 1880. There is a Visitor Centre with an exhibition.
Close to Jerpoint Abbey, at Newtown Jerpoint, are the ruins of a church where a local legend places the grave of Saint Nicholas.
Jerpoint Abbey is an outstanding Cistercian abbey, well worth visiting. I admired its spectacular ruins and had a peaceful stroll around the cloister. The carvings on the mensa tombs and cloister arcades impressed me the most.
Below are photos I took in September 2021.