Graiguenamanagh, or Graig na Manach (meaning valley of the monks) is a small town in Co Kilkenny, along the border of Co Carlow and at the foot of Brandon Hill. It is home to Duiske Abbey, the largest and perhaps the finest of the thirty-four medieval Cistercian abbeys in Ireland.

The Duiske Abbey, which takes its name from the little river Duiske (Blackwater) which joins the Barrow here, was founded by William Marshall in 1204 and was suppressed by Henry VIII in 1536. Significant remains of the monastery exist to the rear of the houses that line the east side of Lower Main Street. The abbey’s large “Early English” gothic church, was restored in the 1970s and in its northern aisle a model shows the monastery as it was in the fourteenth century.

The River Barrow, historically a significant highway, was developed as a commercial navigation in the mid seventeen hundreds and Graiguenamanagh served as the main base for commercial barges operating on the river until barge traffic ceased in 1959. The barges that at one time lined the quaysides are now replaced by some one hundred pleasure craft.

Near to the town are the ruined remains of the early Christian church of Ullard, founded by Saint Fiachra in the sixth century. St Fiachra subsequently moved to France, where he is known as St Fiacre, and founded the celebrated monastery at Meaux. He is the patron saint of gardeners and taxi drivers; French cabs are often known as fiacres in his honour. Some few miles downstream from Graiguenamanagh the ruins of the ancient monastic establishment at St. Mullins are situated in an area of great beauty and historic interest.

Walking and hillclimbing are among the more popular pursuits of Graiguenamanagh area and with the South Leinster Way meandering through the lovely Barrow Valley and traversing nearby Brandon Hill, scope is provided for the a gentle stroll or a vigorous, day-long hike. The Barrow’s aquatic facilities include fishing, swimming, kayaking and canoeing.

In the centre of the town, its handsome modern library features a comprehensive Local History Section. It provides an Internet Service to the public and, in addition to its other functions, hosts periodic art exhibitions. The very active Graiguenamanagh Historical Society also sponsor a series of talks and lectures at this venue during the winter season. Adjacent to the library is The Abbey Centre, the home of a Christian Art Gallery and small museum.

It was the Historical Society who put together the Graiguenamanagh Heritage Trail which you can view on then link below. You can also visit our office where one can be printed for you.

Visit Kilkenny