Kells Priory, County Kilkenny

From The Illustrated Dublin Journal, Volume 1, Number 32, April 12, 1862

THE remains of the once noble Priory of Kells, county Kilkenny, are situated on the south side of the Vonrigh, or King's River. They stand upon the ascent of a hill, and are bounded at the northern extremity by the river. They are more or less in a state of ruin; and though some parts may be pronounced as excellent in preservation, there are others in a shattered and most dilapidated condition. Dismantled towers, with whole sides torn away, clad in a rich garb of ivy, that sometimes entirely shrouds the ancient masonry; broken arches, and immense masses of fallen fragments everywhere strewing the ground, present a most striking and imposing spectacle.

The Priory was comprehended within a large oblong square, divided into two courts, separated by a strong wall. The southern, or, as it is sometimes called, the Burgher's court, (of which the above engraving is a representation,) is about four hundred feet square, and was apparently never occupied by buildings. In each of the northern angles, and in the centre of the northern and western curtains, is a strong tower, all in good preservation, fitted up with fire-places, closets, and narrow stone stair-cases; and their summits are provided with bartisans and machicolations for the defence of the door-ways. Indeed, this court, with its strong towers and wide compass of enclosure, reminds one rather of a military strong-hold than a religious establishment. A branch of the King's River, with a high wall, flanked by a strong tower, judiciously placed in the centre, divides this court from the other, which contains the ruins of the church, cloister, and other monastic attachments.