Tuesday, April 14, 2009

castles and the black abbey

one of the wonderful things about ireland is its abundance of castles and/or castle-like cathedrals everywhere. we saw many castles and castle ruins on our long drives through the irish countryside. and kilkenny was no exception.

this was kilkenny castle. it actually wasn't all that spectacular. it just seemed kind of huge and sterile in all honesty. what kilkenny had to offer, however, were awesome churches.

st. mary's cathedral was beautiful from the outside. we actually didn't go in (not sure why), but i remember this cathedral as the first "site" we saw in kilkenny.

we parked down the street from st. mary's next to this little garden with a memorial statue to...somebody irish...

st. canice's cathedral was also wonderful.

while matt & i wandered around the cathedral (you had to pay to get in...boo), i got distracted by the ancient graveyard on the grounds. call me morbid for being attracted to death, but wandering both this and another old graveyard in another town was incredibly spiritual for me, and i found so much ancient beauty and sadness in these deteriorating gravestones.

when i met back up with matt, he was admiring and taking pictures of this door at the back of the cathedral.

and finally, the black abbey.

our guidebook mentioned this dominican abbey as being one of the oldest churches in kilkenny that was a must see. when we found it and stepped inside, a mass had just only begun. words are, unfortunately, insufficient to describe what both matt & i felt inside as the two aging dominican monks chanted the mass, their words echoing against the abbey's ancient and dark stone walls. it was almost as if they had been there for centuries, chanting. there was a feeling of complete reverence and ancient sacredness that one must not disturb.

we sat and listened and decided that we could not take pictures while the mass was being performed. we left and returned later to try to capture the inside of the black abbey.

given the darkness of stone that penetrated the abbey, it was difficult to capture.

the stain glass windows were absolutely breath taking. unfortunately, their beauty in relation to the very atmospheric interior could not be captured in a picture.

needless to say, visiting the black abbey was the highlight of our trip.


  1. Beautiful! I love old churches and stain glass windows!

  2. I LOVE these! I also morbidly took tons of pictures of headstones (they are SO AWESOME)!!!

    I love all your pics of the bright colors too. Lovely (: