St. Mary’s Collegiate Church, Kilkenny, Ireland

St Mary’s Collegiate Church, also known as the ‘Church of the Blessed Virgin of the Assumption’, is a 13th century church situated in the centre of the village of Gowran, County Kilkenny. The 13th century church was built on the site of an earlier monastery and there is much evidence to suggest that a church may have stood in or around this site as early as the 5th century. The church that was built in the late 13th century was a ‘collegiate church’ which was served by a ‘college’, clerics who lived in a community beside the church but who did not submit to the rule of a monastery. The imposing 13th century tower in the church is believed to be the only known church in Ireland from that period with a tower in the centre. The church was burned in 1415 and attacked again in 1421 when Edward Bruce attacked the town of Gowran. The Pope granted indulgences over the next ten years for anyone who gave alms for the repair of the church. The height of the tower was increased and strengthened, throughout the rest of the 15th century major alterations were carried out.

In 1541 during the Reformation of King Henry VIII the church became Protestant and the 19th century adjoining parish church that replaced the old chancel was used for worship by the Church of Ireland community until the 1970s.

GPS: 52.62884, -7.06486

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