This was one of those sites that you just happen to come across by pure chance. On a recent trip down near Moone I was in the process of getting lost yet again,down some narrow country road thanks to my trusty Sat Nav. Then out of the corner of my eye I spotted something of interest. So I turned around and was able to park the car on the verge just outside the boundary wall gate.
The ruins known as Killelan Abbey consist of a church and graveyard. With little information available for this site, I really had to do some digging on this one. It would seem that the site at Killelan is the remains of a 13th century settlement connected to the Knights of St John of Jerusalem, whom were better known as the Crusader Knights Hospitaller. Unfortunately this is pretty much all that is known.
Access to the ruin is via a gap in the wall and there are no paths within the enclosure save for a beaten track. The ground within the enclosure is significantly higher than outside with the surface quite uneven and overgrown in parts, so care is needed if exploring. Similar to the site at Oughterard the main square part of the church has a barrel vaulted ceiling with what seems to have been some sort of Round/circular Tower attached to the North-West, this was believed to have been added at a later date, perhaps 14th century. Also visible are small sections of what was once the foundations to part of the nave.
After studying the circular part of the tower for a while to figure a way in, I found a small crawl-space which lead to a spiral stair case. As luck would have it I was not properly attired for the occasion and had to miss out on ascending the tower. Most of the grave stones that are still readable date from 18th – 19th century, with many more that appear to be much older. With so little available information available we can on speculate as to the surrounding history of such a location but I guess it would be a safe bet to assume that Killelan would have come to an abrupt end either during the Suppression of the monastery’s by Henry VIII in 1534 or if it indeed survived the ‘Act of Suppression’, Oliver Cromwell’s invasion of Ireland (1649–1653) would have surely finished the job.