Aghmacart Priory (Priory)
also known as: Achmacatenis, Achmecart, Ahmart, AmcartOrder: Augustinian Canons
Aghmacart Priory was founded on the site of a pre-Norman church which seems to have been dedicated to a certain St. Tigernach (perhaps the patron of Clones who had Leinster connections). This early church was burned in 1156 by the northern king, Muirchertach Mac Lochlainn. Neither foundation date of the Augustinian Priory nor its secular patron are known, although it may have been endowed by the Meic Gilla Pátraic (later Fitzpatricks) kings of Ossory. The late medieval records indicate that it was in the diocese of Ossory and that the Fitzpatricks laid claim to the priory. There were links between Aghmacart and Monahinca, the famous Augustinian pilgrim site near Roscrea, Co. Tipperary. Aghmacart Priory was dedicated to St. Mary and St. Tigernach.show more...
There are several early Christian ecclesiastical settlements associated with the parish of Aghmacart. Cell Fhinnche is in the townland of Killenny More/Toberboe, and is associated with Finnech (?), or Eithne (?). Folk traditions associated with the site include pilgrimages to the well on the Feast of St. John, and field remains include a church ruin, a graveyard and a well. The foundation of Cell Muire, or Kilmurry, is in the townland of Parknahown, in the parish of Aghmacart, and was a female foundation, dedicated to St. Mary, with field remains including a possible ecclesiastical site, and no other visible traces. The foundation of Etargabal, in the townland of Addergoole, and in the parish of Aghmacart, was associated with Cromsech, Créd and Colum. It was possible a female and male establishment, with links to the Brigidine family in Kildare. Folk traditions include a church that stood in ‘Kiln Field’, and field remains include an ecclesiastical site, and a previously extant church ruin. The foundation of Newtown (Kyleaderry), was in the townland of Newtown, and the parish of Aghmacart. It was a female foundation with a folk tradition of a nunnery existing. Field remains include an ecclesiastical site, a possible enclosure, and a church ruin. The site of Ráith Choill/na Coille is in the townland of Oldtown and parish of Aghmacart, and field remains include a church ruin. (monasticonhibernicum.celt.dias.ie, accessed 26/03/13)Dedicated to: St Mary and St Tigernach
Description of the the history and remains of Aghmacart from Archdall's 'Monasticon Hibernicum', pp. 590 - 591
Aghmacart – 590
Is situated four miles west of Durrow, in the barony of Upper Ossory, where an abbey was said to have been founded about the year 550, and we find that O’Dempsey founded a priory on the ancient site, and under the invocation of St. Tighernach, for Canons regular. This priory paid 2l. annually to the bishop of Ossory for proxies, and was the burial-place of the Lords of the barony.
10th April, 43d. Queen Elizabeth, a grant was made to Florence Fitzpatrick of this priory, with the appurtenances and the tithes of corn and hay; also the rectory of Aghamacart, with the tithes of Cowlhill, together with the monastery of Aghaboe and the rectory of Cowlkerie, parcel of the monasteries of St. Thomas near Dublin, at the annual rent of 23l. 8s. 2d. The rectories of Aghenmaghe, without the alterages, at the annual rent of 26s. 8d.; Aghtert alias Cirke, 13s. 4d. Besides the alterages; and the rectory of Kelline, at the annual rent of 10l; to hold the same in fee-farm.
Several ruins of this building yet remain, but of which there is nothing remarkable, save a gate at the entrance with a well-turned arch of good workmanship, and stone sockets for the gate to turn in. Through the attention and care of Dr. Pococke, whilst he presided in the see of Ossory, part of these ruins were repaired for divine service – which is now the parish church. (Archdall, 590 – 591)
Description of the site of Aghmacart from Canon Carrigan's 'History & Antiquities of the Diocese of Ossory', ii, 237-40.
The Ruins of Aghamacart
Two plates of the ruins of Aghamacart Priory towards the close of the 18th century, have been given to the public, one in Grose's 'Antiquities of Ireland', published in 1791; the other in the 'Irish Penny Journal' of Dec. 4th, 1841. Both sketches show the present Protestant church, and a very high square castle that stood opposite its north gable, at a distance of about 20 yards; they also show a ruinous building attached to the east wall of the castle, and extending thence, eastward, for a considerable distance.
The castle, which was most likely the residence of the Canons, is stated by these who remember it, to have been as high and almost as large as that of Cullahill. It collapsed from the very foundation about the year 1850. The building attached to it on the east side, was the Priory Church, or, as people call it, "the Friars' Chapel." About 30ft. of the east end of this chapel yet remains. It was 18 1/2 ft. wide internally. The fragment of the north side-wall shows traces of three small broken windows. The east gable has a window, now built up, measuring, on the inside, where it is round-headed, 4 1/2 ft. in width and about 10ft. in height; on the outside it is framed with cut-stone, has a label moulding, is about 22 in. wide and 5 ft. high, and is divided by an upright mullion, now removed, into two narrow ogee-headed lights. Springing out of the southern extremity of the east gable, at a height of 12 ft., there is part of a Norman arch, which led, through the east end of the south side-wall, into some apartment, perhaps a side chapel, or transept, now thrown down. The south side-wall has been destroyed. What now remains of this "Friars' chapel," has been converted into a stable or car-house, for the convenience of those who attend service in the adjacent Protestant church.
The ancient PARISH CHURCH of Aghamacart stood in ruins till the episcopate of the Protestant Bishop, Dr. Pocock (1756-65), who had the chancel fitted up as a parish church. This chancel, which still serves as the Protestant church of the district, stands, most strangely, due north and south. It measures, internally, 34 ft. by 23 ft., the side walls being 15 ft. high, the south gable 3 ft. 8 in. thick, and the east side-wall 3 ft. thick. The east side-wall has two large Gothic windows, framed within and without, with chiselled limestone; if, as is very likely, they were traceried originally, the tracery has disappeared. In the middle, between these windows, is a cut-stone locker,chamfered on the edges, and measuring 16 in. every way. No windows now appear in the west side-wall; but, at the north end, a slab, 26 in. by 29 in., exhibiting a carving of rich foliage, in relief, serves as a lintel over a small fire-place; its original purpose apparently was to ornament the top of a statue-niche.
There was a fine gothic cut-stone window, high up, in the south gable, to the rere of an ancient altar, but its tracery has been removed and some modern work substituted for it; on the outside it has a hood moulding, ending at each side in foliage similar to that to be seen at Pottlerath church. Underneath the door a modern door has been broken out, which is now the main entrance to the church.
The north gable is six feet six inches thick. Its one feature of interest, and that the most interesting feature among the ruins of Aghamacart, is the choir-arch so massive and solid. it is perfectly round at top, of beautifully chiselled limestone, chamfered at the edges, and ornamented underneath with two semi-circular ribs, one single, the other double, both ending at the sides in plain carvings;its width is 11ft., and height, to the apex of the arch, 12 ft.
The gateway, which Archdall describes as "a well-turned arch of good workmanship" stood at the north-west side of the graveyard, but has been taken down.
The burial vaults at Aghamacart are said to have been extensive and to have probably penetrated far under the building to the north of the Protestant church...
...About 100 yards north-east of the graveyard, at the opposite side of the road to Cullahill, there is a small fertile field called the "Infirmary field"; this is said to have been the site of the Priory Infirmary. In very dry summers, the foundations of houses may be distinctly traced here, beneath the surface.
Civil Parish: Aghmacart
Townland: Aghmacart (Achadh Mhic Airt)
Early mediaeval Kingdom/Lordship: Osraige
Main events in the history of this site
1156: - Monastery burned (AFM)
c.1225: - Prior of Akethmacart witnessed a charter by which Peter,Bishop of Ossory (1221-31), granted half the Church of Claragh to the Prior and canons of St John's Abbey, Kilkenny, and the other half to the vicar of the said church. [Carrigan, Hist. & Antiqs. Diocese Ossory ii, 235 ex Registro Hospitalis S. Johannis Evangelistae iuxta Kilkenniam. British Library]
1251, 7 August: Royal protection - Letters of simple and unlimited protection for the Prior and canons of Fertackerach and Ackidmacarth in Ireland. Windsor. Pat.,, 35 Hen III., m. 4 [CDI p. 472 no. 3182]
1455, 12 June: - Exchange of priors between Aghmacart and Monahincha, Co. Tipperary [CPL 1455, 674]
1455: - 1455. 4 Kal. June. (29 May.) St. Peter’s, Rome. (f. 202)
To the archdeacon of Ossory. Mandate as below. The recent petition of Thady Megirid (sic), an Augustinian canon of Frattakyreach in the diocese of Ossory, contained that after the priorship thereof, a conventual dignity, had been so long void that its collation had by the Lateran statutes lapsed to the apostolic see, and that there was no certain knowledge of the true mode of its voidance, the convent, seeing that the said monastery (which had formerly been famous and in which hospitality was kept up to rich and poor) had fallen into great desolation and was in great need of reform, and also of books, ornaments, bells and other necessaries, and hoping that the said Thady (who for the said repair and restoration had, with licence of his prior and convent, been transferred from his monastery of Incemacneri, of the said order, in the diocese of Elphin, of which he was a canon, to the said monastery of Fearttakyreach, and who had for a long time been engaged on the said repair etc.) would be of great service to the said monastery, unanimously elected him prior. The said election being without force, and the said priory being still void as above, and still being reserved in virtue of the pope’s late reservation of all conventual dignities, the pope hereby orders the above archdeacon to summon Thady Ocrinam (who, as the above Thady alleges, is an Augustinian canon of Achamicairt in the diocese of Ossory, and who after the said lapse was by authority of the ordinary appointed warden or administrator of the said monastery of Fearttakyreach, and who, under pretext of the said appointment, and without any other canonical title or any tittle or right, has for more than a year but less than two years administered the said monastery and its goods) and other concerned, and if he finds the facts to be as stated, and the said priory, value not exceeding 7 marks sterling, to be void as above or in any other way, and the said Thady Magriyd, who is of noble birth, to be fit to collate and assign it, even if it have cure, provided that its collaton lapsed as above, to the said Thady Magriyd (sic), inducting him, after having received from him the usual oath of fealty to the pope and the Roman church according to the form enclosed, and removing the said Thady Ocrinam and any other detainer. Dignum arbitramur. (CPL, 11 (1455 – 1464), 202 – 203)
1466, 28 May: - James Ybury, priest of Diocese of Ossory, granted provision of Priory of Aghamacart [CPL]
1481, 31 March: - William Obrothe, priest of Ossory, is appointed by Papal Brief, Prior of the Monastery of St. Tigernacius, otherwise of the Blessed Mary, of Achanncayrtt, of the Order of St. Augustine, vacant by the death of Patrick Obnogy. [CPL]
1516, 25 September: - The seal of the Priory of St. "Tygernasius" of Aghamacart, is attached, at this date, to the definitive sentence of William McGilpatrick, Canon of Ossory, in the dispute relating to the Archdeaconry of Ossory. [?CPL; Carrigan ii, 237].
1525: - Donal O'Phelan became Prior; he was still living in 1542. [Carrigan, ii, 237]
1574, 9 March: - Sir Barnaby Fitzpatrick, 2nd Lord Ossory, has a lease from the Crown "of the site of the monastery of Agmacarte in Upper Ossorye, the lands of Aghmacarte and the tithe corn of the rectory of Agmacartye with the tithes of Cowlekill". [Carrigan, ii, 237]
1586, 16 September: - Lease of monastery granted to Daniel Kelly, a soldier who slew the great Earl of Desmond. [Carrigan, ii, 237]
1601, 10 April: - A patent granting possession of Aghamacart was passed to Florence, Lord of Upper Ossory. [Carrigan, ii, 237]
+ 8 minor events. Show minor events
5 Printed sourcesshow sources
Carrigan, William., 'The history and antiquities of the diocese of Ossory' (Dublin 1905)
Empey, C.A., 'The Cantreds of the Medieval County of Kilkenny' The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland Vol. 101, No. 2 pp.128-134
Fenning, Hugh, 'An Augustinian Provincial Chapter at Fethard, 1649' Collectanea Hibernica 48 (2006) pp.9-20
Jackson Lawlor, Hugh, 'Calendar of the Liber Ruber of the Diocese of Ossory' Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy. Section C: Archaeology, Celtic Studies, History, Linguistics, Literature Vol. 27 (1908/1909) pp.159-208
Millett, Benignus, 'Fabian Ryan, O.P., Postulated as Bishop by Clergy and Laity of Cashel and of Emly 1652' Collectanea Hibernica No. 29 (1988) pp.14 - 38
National Library of Ireland (Prints and Drawings), 'Abbey of Aghmacart North Aspt: Queen's Co. Augst: 4th: 1792', (Document), (View website)
Royal Irish Academy (Manuscripts), 'OS Letter to T.A. Larcom from John O'Donovan (Aghmacart)', (Document), (View website)
National Library of Ireland, 'Record of appeal re. grant of a parish church by the Prior of Aghmacart by authority of pretended pa', (Document), (View website)
Laois, OSI Grid:S3308074500
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