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Aghaboe Abbey

Saint Feargal of Aghaboe Abbey

Aghaboe Abbey was founded in the sixth century by St. Canice. The name Aghaboe originate from the surrounding green fields, meaning the grazing fields of cows. The abbey grew into a major centre of learning, commerce and agriculture.

In the 700’s the astronomer St. Virgilius, also known as St. Feargal, was the abbot of Aghaboe Abbey. St Feargal became the Bishop of Salzburg after leaving Ireland.

It was plundered by the Vikings in 913 and rebuilt in 1052 with relics of St Canice enshrined.
It was again burned in 1116 and built in 1189. During this period it served as an Augustinian priory and was the cathedral church of the diocese of Ossory, to which the High Crosses of Ahenny and Kilkieran are attributed.

Today a 1700’s Church of Ireland, church stands where that priory once stood. This church appears to contain some fragments of the Augustinians’ buildings. On the east side of the doorway, visitors can see a carved limestone head that dates from the Middle Ages. The small belltower at the northwest corner of the church has the same proportions as one from the 1200s.

The fine ruins on this site belong to a Dominican friary founded in 1382 by Finghan MacGillapatrick, Lord of Ossory. This friary serviced the community for 4 centuries. The church, which was conserved by the local community, contains a beautifully carved three-light window in the east wall. Monks would have entered through the doorway in the north wall, which led from the cloister. The doorway in the west wall, through which the public would have entered the church, dates from the Middle Ages.

Near Aghaboe Abbey the tree-covered remains of a Norman motte can be seen. The Normans would have built a wooden tower on top of this steep-sided mound of earth, where they could store their arms and from which they could keep a lookout for potential attackers.

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