A look at the lives of those who built Jerpoint Abbey

A NEW book about the religious order that created Jerpoint Abbey is being launched this Friday night.

A NEW book about the religious order that created Jerpoint Abbey is being launched this Friday night.

A Monastic Landscape: The Cistercians in Medieval Ireland by Breda Lynch, who has worked as a guide and information officer at the abbey, will be launched at the NUI Maynooth outreach campus at St Kieran’s College, Kilkenny on Friday at 7.30pm. A launch will also be held on Sunday at noon in the John O’Donovan Parish Centre in Slieverue.

The 192-page book is a detailed study of various aspects of the Cistercian Order in medieval Leinster. It focuses on the lands that the monasteries held in the province, including the great houses of Mellifont, Baltinglass, Jerpoint, Duiske, Tintern and Dunbrody. The main content of the book deals with the identification of the lands held by the Cistercian houses of Leinster, with references to other provinces. The last chapter deals with the fate of these monasteries in the post-Dissolution period.

“This is the first publication to deal with the overall, complex picture of Cistercian landholding, land use and situation in medieval Leinster,” the author says. This combines a discussion on the makeup of the monastery along with the various buildings that constitute the monastic complex. The utilisation of the produce from the monastic lands is also discussed. “This study presents some surprising findings and challenges common-held beliefs. It is also a treasure trove of sources for any student of monastic Ireland in the 12th to 16th centuries,” says the author.

Ms Lynch graduated in 2009 from the National University of Ireland Maynooth with a PhD in History, this followed an award of a First Class Honours Grade 1 Bachelor of Arts Degree. Her main area of interest is the medieval period, particularly in relation to the Cistercian Order, and she has presented many lectures on this topic.

She is employed by the Office of Public Works (OPW) and her working life is based at Jerpoint Abbey, a 12fth-century Cistercian monastery renowned for its figurative sculpture.

The book will be available for €54, or a reduced price of €45 at the launch.