Black Abbey of Kildare

Black Abbey (2)

Black Abbey (1)

Black Abbey was the last of the three Abbeys of Kildare that I visited back in 2012, and the first to be re-visited. On my last visit I was unable to find access and had to do with a couple of shots over the wall from the National Stud. However on a recent photo shot in the Japanese gardens I found an entrance into the Abbeys graveyard. It is actually about 500m down the road from the Wayside Well in Tully.

Black Abbey (3)

Black Abbey (5)

Black Abbey (4)

Exploration of the site showed a lot more than I had expected from peeping over a wall a few years earlier. Entry to the abbey can be found via an old hedged graveyard, the way in via a fenced pathway is almost disguised, but leads you to a cemetery gate with a chain and latch. There is also an old turnstile in the stone wall. There were no prohibitive signs except a ‘Please keep the gate closed’, sign so on I went.

Black Abbey (6)

Black Abbey (8)

Black Abbey (7)

Walking around the graveyard with its mix of recent graves from the last century and grave stones from ancient times which are little more than bare stones jutting from the ground was quite unusual. Not that this was uncommon, but the graveyard was well spaced unlike so many similar sites of this kind. The ruins of the Abbey rest on top of a slightly raised mound with a few scattered yew trees which you will always come across in old graveyards.

Black Abbey (9)

Black Abbey (11)

Black Abbey (10)

 Abbey is said to have been founded in Tully sometime around 1212AD by the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem or as they were more commonly known as The Knights Hospitallers. The Abbey was said to have thrived under various Lords of Kildare and remained a Hospitaller precepetory right up until the Reformation when most religious sites across the UK & Ireland were surrendered to the crown. Like its neighbouring Abbeys in Kildare Grey Abbey and White Abbey it got its name from the colour of the Habits worn by its inhabitants.

Black Abbey (12)

Black Abbey (14)

Black Abbey (13)

It is said that the precepetory at the Abbey was used as a guesthouse for the knights and that they may have bred horses here, which ties in well with the National Stud farm is located on the opposite side of the graveyard. After the start of the reformation Henry VIII gave the Abbey to a David Sutton whom sat on the privy council in 1539AD. Sometime later it passed on to the Sarsfield family before eventually falling into ruin. There have been rumours of underground passages connecting the Black Abbey to the other monastic sites of the White Abbey and the Grey Abbey in nearby Kildare town.

Black Abbey (15)

Black Abbey (17)

Black Abbey (16)

Little else is known about the Abbey, but for a ruin of its age it is still a sturdy structure well worth exploring. The tower can be entered , but there is no way of getting to the top which I am sure would give stunning views of the surrounding countryside.

Black Abbey (17)

Black Abbey (22)

Black Abbey (21)

Black Abbey (20)

Black Abbey (19)

Black Abbey (18)

For these and more of my images, why not visit my Website or join me on Facebook or Twitter.

About edmooneyphotography

Photographer, Blogger, Ruinhunter, with an unhealthy obsession for history, mythology and the arcane.
This entry was posted in Diary of a Ruinhunter, Historical, Medieval, Photography, Places of Interest, Religious Sites, Ruins and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

51 Responses to Black Abbey of Kildare

  1. Sue Vincent says:

    If ever I fulfill my ambition to get an extended visit to Ireland, you photographs will be my route planner, Ed.


  2. Bob says:

    A simple but intriguing place. Nice shots, makes me want to see more of what the Abbey is like.


    • Thank you Bob, glad you liked them. Its definitely worth a visit if your in the area and with so much more great sites to see and explore all within walking distance, you could easily spend the day in Kildare 🙂


  3. Line says:

    These photos are just gorgeous! They invoke such mystery and a feeling of long forgotten legends that wants to be retold, and stories of long lived lives and devotion, fights and heroes, belief and myth, stories that are roaming around in this abbey craving our attention. Your photos make me miss Ireland so much!


    • Ah, Thank you so much. You just summed up my idea of Ireland in a few words. Whilst im not the greatest writer in the world, I try to let the image speak for itself and add a little history to fill in the gaps.
      So glad you enjoyed the images, perhaps you might make it back to our shores one day? 🙂



      • Line says:

        Oh, yes I really hope so! I have a very dear friend, an adopted Godmother (:-)) who lives there, so one day I will for sure be back. I love Ireland and I have spent a lot of time there, living mostly in the parts around Galway, but I have roamed around the whole country. It is such a breathtakingly beautiful country. I am originally from Norway, and we also have stunning nature, but Ireland is so full of mystery and legends and fairy magic, and the people, at least the ones I have met, are proud of their heritage and their Irish culture, most Norwegians are not like that. Now I live in India, and also here there is magic and spirituality, but India has a completely different soul than Ireland, it is not as free and audacious. So yes, I miss Ireland and I will definitely be back 🙂


        • Ahh Norway, good Viking country. Never been to India or Norway, but would love to visit and explore both. Anywhere with a rich History, Mythology and fantastic scenery gets me hooked every time. Outside of Ireland Norway and Sweden are top of my bucket list.


          • Line says:

            Oh, you should really go to Norway! The nature is stunning! It is my favorite thing about my home, and what I miss every day I am away from it. It is so dramatic, and wild and raw, but in a friendly way, not like the nature in India which I find quite hostile. And the colors and the light of Norway! Especially in winter, it is amazing! And I am sure you can get some beautiful shots there 🙂


  4. What wonderfully atmospheric pictures. I expect to see a unicorn or a medieval maiden appear at any moment. It’s almost impossible to achieve anything like this in the harsh African light – not to mention that our ruins consist solely of vandalised buildings 🙂


  5. Nelson says:

    Beautiful architecture and full of history


  6. I absolutely love photographing buildings, especially those with real character. These are great images and you get a real feel for the location and the subject.


  7. Great shots of the Black Abbey – thanks for the information about how they get their names – “black” seems to imply dark-dealings going on – but it was just the color of their clothes – of course! The sky is great in these – I really like the first gate shot. Glad you went back Ed.


  8. John says:

    Beautiful photos, I would so love to visit these places.


  9. George says:

    Awesome history and photos of this Abbey. Some day I will get to Ireland and have the opportunity of seeing and photographing these sites firsthand. Keep up your fabulous work!


  10. Lovely! … We visited the National Stud a couple of years ago but I missed out on this site. Maybe I’ll see it when we return to Ireland next time. Thanks for sharing and raising awareness. 🙂


  11. Great shots as usual Ed. There seems to be some IR effects going on in some of the images, was this in camera or do you post process BW effects in photoshop?


    • Thanks Robert, yes I was experimenting with IR with various success. Some shots were suitable and some were not, hence the mix.
      All post process, in Photoshop CS6. Although I am trying to get to grips with Silver Effex & Perfect effects.
      I am hoping to upgrade my kit and get a new SLR this year and am seriously considering getting my trusty old D40 converted to shoot IR,

      Fingers crossed,



  12. AmyRose says:

    Stunning photography! Wow!!! Thank you!


  13. greenpete58 says:

    Thanks for visiting my blog! Fantastic photos!


  14. I am so glad you came along an introduced me to your blog! The shots are fantastic. I would rather look at them than watch TV. I MUST go over to Ireland to see all these places!


  15. Eerily beautiful! Thanks.


  16. elhizamour says:

    Wow! Creepy yet wonderfu! Your pictures will keep on haunting me. Great shots! 😉


  17. gapark says:

    The only time I was in Ireland it was more of a “visiting the family homestead” trip and “check off all the tourist sites” trip. Would like to see some of these more “real” sites of mood and atmosphere. On my bucket list! Thanks for visiting me! Gail @ Making Life An Art


  18. LB says:

    The stonework of these ruins amazes me and I love that photo of the shadow of the gate on the stone.


  19. smkelly8 says:

    Reblogged this on No Fixed Plans and commented:
    This makes me want to visit Ireland.


  20. Pingback: My Photoblog Adventure 2014, A year in review Part 1 | EdMooneyPhotography

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