Monday, May 12, 2014

Ireland - Duiske Abby & Graignamanagh

I wrote about "Ireland and St. Patrick" on March 17 of this year... the first of a series that I will publish about my travels in Ireland.  Today, we revisit Ireland to an unspoiled haven of Craignamanagh, known as 'the Village of the Monks' and also 'the Valley of the Holy Savior'.  It is a medieval village in County Kilkenny in Barrow valley. They call it Ireland's best kept secret because of its' treasure in scenery and ancient buildings. 

One such ancient building is Duiske Abby, which was founded in 1204 by monks from England and was completed 40 years later.  The largest Cistercian Abbey in Ireland accommodated 60 monks and some hundreds of lay brothers and served as a hostel, hospital, school and farm.  The monks were suppressed at the time of the reformation in 1536, its' community dispersed and later went into ruin.  In 1728, a thatched "Mass House" was erected and in 1812, converted to parish status.  In 1974, a major restoration was commenced and six years later, the Abby church was rededicated.

Duiske Abbey - Roman Catholic
Walled portion of Duiske Abby
Processional Door
 It is always an amazement to me to be in in such places of ancient history.  If only the grounds and structures could talk!  What stories they would tell.  One such story that is incomplete is about the Knight of Duiske found in the Abbey.  This figure is a cross-legged, sword-seizing knight on a limestone base and dates from about 1300 and is one of the finest medieval effigies in Ireland.  Carved in Ireland from local stone, it reflects a style of profound knowledge of contemporary English fashion according to history "trivia".
Knight of Duiske
Who is he, this Knight of Duiske?  No one knows.  What is certain is that he was a 13th century knight of stature and most likely a benefactor, since benefactors were often buried inside the church.  The effigy is known locally as the "Crusader".

Duiske Abbey is also home to exquisite stained glass windows.  Since I am a fan of stained glass windows, my camera was always 'set to go' whenever the opportunity came about to take photos of these wonders in transparent color.  The following photos are a just a few that show off the artistic beauty, which leaves the viewer in awe of designs in a colored spectrum that floods the sanctuary and inspires the soul...  (click on the photos for enlargement to see greater detail)

Duiske Abby Altar
It is interesting to note that at the time of dispersion in 1536,  Abbot Charles O'Kavanagh sent some of his younger monks to the Celtic monastery of Regensburg in Germany.  There they perpetuated the Irish traditional form of singing "Gregorian Chant".   The Craignamanagh people, after the struggle of successive generations, have determined to maintain the continuity of worship in the Abbey bequeathed to them over the centuries by their fore-bearers in the faith.

We will return to Ireland in a future post about more of my travels in discovery of the history and timeless beauty in this ancient land.  

Until we meet again (Monday, May 26).... here's a bit of Irish wisdom, "May you have the hindsight to know where you've been, the foresight to know where you are going, and the insight to know when you have gone too far."

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