Jerpoint Abbey

Decorative sculptures known as 'weepers' at the base of a tomb at Jerpoint Abbey

The ‘weepers’ of a stone tomb in Jerpoint Abbey • Kilkenny

Jerpoint’s Medieval Sculpture

Looking up at the Abbey with a sculpture of a dragon in the foreground

A dragon on one of the columns in the cloister • Kilkenny

Looking up at the Abbey with a sculpture of a dragon in the foreground

A dragon on one of the columns in the cloister • Kilkenny

‘…But in cloisters, where the brothers are reading, what is the point of this ridiculous monstrosity, this shapely misshapenness, this misshapen shapeliness? What is the point of those unclean apes, fierce lions, monstrous centaurs, halfmen, striped tigers, fighting soldiers and hunters blowing their horns?… In short, so many and so marvellous are the various shapes surrounding us that it is more pleasant to read the marble than the books, and to spend the whole day marvelling over these things rather than meditating on the law of God. Good Lord! If we aren’t embarrassed by the silliness of it all, shouldn’t we at least be disgusted by the expense?’

It may not be to Bernard’s austere taste, but I always find exploring Jerpoint to be a rewarding day out. Each time I revisit I notice some other great sculpture or detail I had overlooked before. Jerpoint is under the auspices of the OPW. It has an informative visitor centre and there are guided tours available.

Upper left: an effigy of two knights, known as ‘The Brethren’ • Lower left: exterior view of Jerpoint Abbey • Right: sculptures on the cloister’s columns, including one depicting an abbot, and another of a knight

Top: an effigy of two knights, known as ‘The Brethren’ • Middle: sculptures on the cloister’s columns, including one depicting an abbot, and another of a knight • Bottom: exterior view of Jerpoint Abbey

Explore more sites in Ireland’s Ancient East

  • Ireland's Ancient East — Limerick — Places to Visit in Ireland
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  • Ireland's Ancient East — Places to Visit in Ireland — Waterford
    June 10, 2022
  • Ireland's Ancient East — Kilkenny — Places to Visit in Ireland
    August 22, 2022
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