The Grey Abbey, Co. Kildare

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

In the 13th century, in and around Kildare Town established Three Abbeys. Known as the Grey Abbey, the Black Abbey, and the White Abbey. Named after the color of the habits worn in medieval times by the monks of the foundations.

Kildare Abbey – called The Grey Abbey lies south of Kildare town. On the Athy road, 1 kilometer from the town center. The ruins of the Abbey are located behind Kildare Village.

Lord William de Vesci founded the Grey Abbey 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. Then, 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.

Then, the abbey thrived under the Fitzgeralds and was in use until it was suppressed in 1539. In the 14th century, they added the buttresses to the north wall. And probably in the 15th century inserted the east and west windows. Then, 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.

Best viewed from the outside as the remaining part walls are unsafe.

The ruins of Black Abbey are located on the grounds of the Irish National Stud, about 2 kilometers from the town of Kildare. In 1212, in Tully, the Knights Hospitaller of St. John of Jerusalem (now known as the Knights of Malta, who wore black habits) founded The Black Abbey.

Moreover, 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. Founded as a Carmelite Friary and became known as the White Abbey after the color 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 are photos I took 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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