Europe Ireland

One More for the Road: Jerpoint Abbey

It was our final day in Ireland, but a relaxed one. Our flight wasn’t until that evening so we took a long walk, had a nice breakfast and took a slow drive on the backroads up through the heart of Ireland to Dublin.

Twenty years ago (twenty, yikes!) I took this same road (part of it anyway) with a carload of Dublin marathon runners-to-be to see Waterford and it’s crystal. While the running was to be, the visit to Waterford was not. A truck had overturned on the two lane road dumping its cargo (cow carcasses) everywhere. The traffic stretched back for miles. No one was going anywhere anytime soon. So, what to do? Hit the local pub of course. We’d just passed through lovely little Thomastown, so we u-turned it back. On the way, we passed this old, hollowed out abbey and made a stop. It stuck with me, that visit, for twenty years.

So, as we drove northward just south of Thomastown and I saw Jerpoint Abbey coming upon us around a bend, I pulled over to stop. We parked and went in and Gerry enthusiastically explained the history of the abbey, explained the carvings on the arches of the cloister, told us the story of the Fitzgeralds and the Butlers who “when they weren’t fighting each other were marrying each other” and the carvings of two who’d married on either side of a stone pillar both with the family’s pet monkey who, as the story goes, saved their baby from a house fire. He showed us the column housed inside the Abbey with the early Irish language carvings and talked about the remains of the paintings on the walls inside.

It’s not a super popular site in Ireland so both this time and the last we had it to ourselves. And the cemetery in the yard, with its old, tipping tombstones and the majestic skeletal remains of the archways inside the abbey continue to stick with me today, just a mere few days after my second visit, as they did so many years ago.

So, if you happen to be in quaint little Thomastown Ireland. Maybe drive the 2km south and check it out. And tell Gerry the Traveling Ridleys sent you.

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