The Grey Abbey, Co. Kildare

While visiting The Irish National Stud and Gardens I searched for some attractions located near and I found out about Three Abbeys of Kildare.

Three Abbeys were established in and around Kildare Town in the 13th century, they were known as the Grey Abbey, the Black Abbey and the White Abbey. They are named after the colour of the habits worn in medieval times by the monks of the foundations.

Kildare Abbey – called The Grey Abbey lies south of the Kildare town, on the Athy road, 1 kilometre from the town centre. The ruins of the Grey Abbey are located behind Kildare Village.

The Grey Abbey was founded by Lord William de Vesci for the Franciscan Friars around 1254. However the Abbey was completed by Lord Offaly Gerald Fitz Maurice, who died in 1286 and was interred in the graveyard. John Fitz Thomas, the first Earl of Kildare was buried at the Grey Abbey in 1316. Three other Earls from the same lineage were also buried there.

The abbey thrived under the Fitzgeralds and was in use until it was suppressed in 1539. Buttresses were added to the north wall in the 14th century and the east and west windows were probably inserted in the 15th century. The Abbey was closed during the Reformation in 1539.

The Abbey was named after the grey habits worn by the Franciscan monks during medieval times.

Sadly the Abbey now lies in ruins, but the graveyard survives. Its best viewed from the outside as the remailing part walls are unsafe.

The riuns of Black Abbey are located on the grounds of the Irish National Stud, about 2 kilometres from the town of Kildare. The Black Abbey was founded in 1212 in Tully by the Knights Hospitaller of St. John of Jerusalem – now known as the Knights of Malta, who wore black habits.

Kildare town has also the White Abbey. The original White Abbey or St. Mary’s Priory, was founded according to most sources around 1290 A.D. by William de Vescy, Lord of Kildare. It was founded as a Carmelite Friary and became known as the White Abbey after the colour of the white habits of the Carmelite Friars.

While the Grey Abbey and Black Abbey are now in ruins but the White Abbey is the Friary Church of the Carmelites and is a busy parish church.

Location of The Grey Abbey:

Below my photos taken in April 2022.


Blogger. Volunteer. Enthusiast of photography, nature, architecture, and cultural events. Since 2014 living in County Carlow in Ireland.

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