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Cistercian Abbeys: KILLENNY

Name: KILLENNY Location: Killenny town County: Kilkenny
Foundation: 1162-5 Mother house: Jerpoint
Relocation: None Founder: Dermot O’Ryan
Dissolution: 1227 Prominent members:
Access: No remains

Killenny was founded some time between 1162 and 1165 by Dermot O’Ryan, liegeman of Dermot Mac Murrough, the king of Leinster. The house was dedicated to St. Mary and St. Benedict. It seems that the monks were not officially recognized as Cistercian until 1185, when the abbey was affiliated to Jerpoint. It has been argued that the monks were considered Benedictine up until the date of their affiliation with Jervaulx, but this hypothesis has been refuted and the history of the abbey in these years remains obscure. Killenny Abbey was inadequately endowed from the start and in the early thirteenth century it was said to have been too poor to survive; it was burdened with debts and unable to provide hospitality. In 1202, Abbot Thomas and his monks had their possessions confirmed and were granted the right to elect their own abbot. The monks were involved in the ‘riot of Jerpoint’ (1217) and when the abbey was visited by the abbot of Froidmont it was discovered that Killenny was so much in debt that it could no longer continue. Thus, in July 1227 it was united with Duiske (Graiguenamanagh) and Killenny subsequently became a grange of Duiske (Graiguenamangh). This sparked off a long running dispute between Jerpoint and Graiguenamanagh over the ownership of the abbey.

In 1525 the grange was granted to Charles Cavenagh for sixty-one years. He was still in possession in 1548 although it is not known whether any monks were with him.
Nothing now remains of the abbey.