Activists hoping to raise funds to restore famous medieval priory in Kerry

KilcolmanAbbeyPlans are afoot in mid-Kerry to restore what was once one of the richest priories in Ireland.

Historians and foreign tourists mostly comprise the annual visitors to the Augustinian Abbey at Killagha near Milltown, completed in Anglo-Norman times.

However, locals are determined to make it a major attraction again. Founded in 1215-1216 by Strongbow’s nephew Geoffrey de Marisco, it passed through a number of hands during a long tenure, first as a large abbey and then as a manor home.

For over 300 years, Killagha was the richest foundation not alone in Kerry but was also one of the richest of the 223 Augustinian abbeys in Ireland. Its prior was traditionally a member of parliament. As a place of pilgrimage, it was known throughout the medieval world.

Dissolved in Elizabethan times, later than most abbeys, it was seized by the crown and transferred to an Elizabethan captain Thomas Spring, a Protestant nobleman of Castlemaine, and had been run as a manor or castle. However, years later during the Cromwellian era, the abbey was confiscated and destroyed and granted to a Cromwellian soldier, John Godfrey.

It was no longer used as a dwelling house and the abbey and graveyard returned to the older name of the site, Kilcolman.

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