The Black Abbey ...


Historic image of Black abbey
The Abbey of the Most Holy Trinity locally know as the Black Abbey was founded in 1225, 267 years before Columbus discovered America. It gets its name from the black capes which the Dominicans wore and is the only Dominican foundation in Ireland to have survived on its original site. In 1543 King Henry VIII confiscated the abbey and turned it into a Court House but 60 years later the people of Kilkenny seized it and returned it to the Dominicans. In 1650 Cromwell’s forces attacked the Abbey and destroyed all but the tower and parts of the walls. Despite centuries of persecution the Dominican monks have remained on this site. It was reopened for public worship in 1816 and completely restored in 1979. There was a fascinating 15th century alabaster sculpture of the Holy Trinity that was found hidden in a wall during the abbey’s restoration.

Black abbey inside view
In nearly all cases, the main building of monasteries of the Dominicans and Franciscans in Ireland followed the same plan. There was a nave and a choir (pointing east), separated by a tower. From the tower or the nave they had just one transept, pointing to the north with an aisle attached to the nave Black Abbey followed this plan. The nave leads to the altar below the tower. Immediately behind the altar is the large stained glass window known as the "Rosary Window", which is composed of five "lights" or great vertical panels, and is the largest stained glass window in Ireland. This window was created in 1892 by Mayers of Munich, and depicts the Mysteries of the Rosary.


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