Athassel Priory

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by Foxboro Marmot on August 4, 2003

Throughout Ireland, sites like the Rock of Cashel, Bunratty Castle or Glendalough, are either reconstructed, staffed with guides or host a museum. They give visitors a good understanding of what went on at that particular spot and how it fit into Irish history. But even more common are the abandoned ruins of once important sites, slowly deteriorating in the mist and fog of the Irish country side. There's a mystery and a grandeur about these ruins that even the best restored castle, most enthusiatic guide or most interesting museum lacks. Most sites are deserted except for nearby sheep or cows, allowing you to wander the grounds and ponder the past without distraction.

Athassel Priory was one of our favorite off-the-beaten-track finds. The imposing church remains are easily visible off the left of the road. Simply pull off to the side and park. You'll need to walk through a cow pasture to get to the priory: there's a wooden style to help you over the stone wall just left of the metal gate. Watch your step through the pasture!

A stream separates the cows from the priory. Cross the stone bridge and enter through the remains of a gatehouse. Once inside the priory grounds, explore and use you imagination. According to a local source, the priory was founded before 1200 and was the largest in Ireland until it burned in 1447. Large parts of the church walls and central tower remain, along with foundations of the monestary cloisters and other structures. Grave markers within the church walls attest to the priory's former importance.

The tiny village of Golden is on the N74, halfway between the towns of Cashel and Tipperary. From the village, take the local road south about 1 mile to the remains of Athassel Priory.

Athassel Priory
Dublin, Ireland

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