Duiske Abbey

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Duiske Abbey
Mainistir an Dubhuisce
Graiguenamanach Choir Window SE 1997 08 27.jpg
Choir window as seen from South East
Duiske Abbey is located in Ireland
Duiske Abbey
Location within Ireland
Monastery information
Other names Graiguenamanagh Abbey
Order Cistercians
Established 1204
Disestablished 1536
Reestablished 1812
Diocese Kildare and Leighlin
Founder(s) William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke
Status Active
Style English Gothic, gothic, romanesque
Location Abbey Street, Graiguenamanagh, County Kilkenny, Ireland
Coordinates 52°32′28.15″N 6°57′16.79″W / 52.5411528°N 6.9546639°W / 52.5411528; -6.9546639Coordinates: 52°32′28.15″N 6°57′16.79″W / 52.5411528°N 6.9546639°W / 52.5411528; -6.9546639
Public access Yes
Official name Duiske Abbey
Reference no. 620

Duiske Abbey National Monument, also known as Graiguenamanagh Abbey, is a 13th-century Cistercian monastery situated in Graiguenamanagh, County Kilkenny in Ireland.[1][2]

Duiske Abbey was founded by William Marshal in 1204 and is one of the first, largest and perhaps the finest of the thirty-four medieval Cistercian monasteries in Ireland. The Abbey is the parish church of Graiguenamanagh town and beautifully dominates the town centre.

The Abbey is located in the valley of the river Barrow, on a site between the main river and the Duiske tributary. The abbey derives its name from the Douskey River Irish: An Dubhuisce, meaning "Black Water".[3]


Duiske Abbey as seen Abbey Street

The Abbey was founded in 1204 by William Marshall the elder, earl of Pembroke, and was colonised with monks from Stanley in Wiltshire. The monks may not have arrived at Graiguenamangh until 1207, but it seems that building may have begun in 1204 when the cemetery at Duiske was consecrated.

In 1228 the religious community was fixed at thirty-six monks and fifty lay-brothers which was almost as large as Mellifont Abbey. The abbot of Duiske sat as a peer in parliament at that time.

The Abbey was suppressed under Henry VIII in 1536 and the last abbot, Charles O'Cavanagh, resigned his title. Monks continued to occupy it but it began to fall into ruin. Following the dissolution the lands were awarded to James Butler of Duiske. The abbey church continued to be used as a local place of worship. The Church of Ireland re-roofed the west end after the tower collapsed into the nave in 1744. The church was returned to the Roman Catholic community in 1812 and restoration was completed in the 1980s. Currently it is used as a parish church and music events are held there.[4]


Duiske Abbey was one of the first, largest and perhaps the finest of the thirty-four medieval Cistercian monasteries in Ireland. Much of the abbey was constructed with yellow limestone brought across the Irish Sea from quarries at Dundry, outside Bristol.

Significant remains of the monastery still exist and the remains are fully restored as an early Cistercian Church. Original medieval floor tiles from the original building can be seen in the abbey along with the beautiful "Early English" gothic and romanesque architecture. Some of the 13th-century stonework can still be seen, including still-leaf foliage carved into the capitals, dog-tooth ornaments and banded shafts. It contains many Lancet windows.

An effigy of a 13th-century Norman Knight found in the ruins is installed by the main entrance. He is depicted seizing a sword and is carved with great attention to detail. It is one of the finest medieval effigies in Ireland. In its northern aisle a model of the monastery shows the abbey as it was in the 14th century. Explanation plaques are at various points in the Abbey. In the nearby Abbey Centre there is an exhibition of contemporary Christian Art and local historic artefacts.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Cistercian Abbeys: Duiske (Graiguenamanagh)", cistercians.shef.ac.uk 
  2. ^ (Bradley 1981).
  3. ^ "Douskey River (river)". logainm.ie. Retrieved 26 October 2010. 
  4. ^ "Duiske Concerts", duiskeconcerts.ie 


  • Bradley J, Manning C, Johnson DN (1981), Excavations at Duiske Abbey, Graiguenamanagh Co. Kilkenny, Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy., Vol. 81C (Section C: Archaeology, Celtic Studies, History, Linguistics, Literature. ed.), Royal Irish Academy, pp. 397–405, 407–426, JSTOR 25506077. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Butler, C.M.; Butler (1918), The charters of the Cistercian Abbey of Duiske in the county of Kilkenny, Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, v. 35, section C, no 1, Dublin: Hodges, Figgis, OCLC 37628652. 
  • Carville, Geraldine; Bradley (1979), Norman Splendour: Duiske Abbey, Graignamanagh, Belfast: Blackstaff Press, ISBN 978-0-85640-171-8. 
  • Carville, Geraldine; Bradley (1980), A Town Remembers Duiske Abbey, Graignamanagh: an Illustrated History and Guide. 
  • O'Leary, Patrick (1924), Graiguenamanagh Abbey, William & John. 
  • O'Leary, Patrick (1892), Notes on the Cistercian Abbey of Graiguenamanagh, Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, COCHRANE, R.. 
  • Swayne, Séan (1988), Duiske Abbey, Graignamanagh, Criterion Press. 
  • Walsh, Kilian (1972), Graiguenamanagh Abbey. 

External links[edit]