In the south wall of the choir, a now blocked doorway once led to the vestry, which in turn led to the domestic tower attached to the south wall. This tower was probably built for defence, the friary being located outside the town defences. The ground floor now stores a collection of window mouldings and cut stone including fragments of 13th – 14th century cross slabs. By the time of the Dissolution three hundred years later, it was described as having a church, a tower, two halls, a kitchen, a garden, an orchard, a cemetery, a stonewalled courtyard, three messuages, fields and a water mill.
This Franciscan friary is one of only three in Ireland with a transept to the north. No tracery survives in the notable north window, but it is recorded in antiquarian drawings made before it was pulled down at the end of the 18th century, allegedly by a farmer worried it might collapse on his livestock!
An arcade of three impressive pointed arches divide off three small side chapels along the transept’s east wall. A pointed arch recess in the northern chapel may have housed an altar. The southern chapel has a wall niche with a holy water stoup and a niche projects from the wall above the northern two arcade arches that may once have held a holy statue. The central chapel is home of the only cadaver effigy surviving in county Kildare. Its rapidly deteriorating surface bears the images of two cadavers in low false relief with a ringed, fleur-de-lys cross between them. The inscription commemorates James Tallon and Joan Skelton with an incomplete date thought to be 1505.
Excavations in Abbey Street, close to the friary uncovered burials belonging to a cemetery for the medieval town’s community. In addition to this, when part of the nave’s south wall collapsed in 1912, a probable vault was revealed with four burials, one recorded as being in a tomb with moulded jambs.
In the small paddock immediately to the north of the church, a gable wall is all that remains of a chapel that was burned down in 1799. Emerging under the west side of this gable is a holy well dedicated to St James.