About 18km (11 miles) southeast of Kilkenny, this is an outstanding Cistercian monastery, founded in the latter half of the 12th century. Preserved in a peaceful country setting, one of the abbey's highlights is a sculptured cloister arcade. There is a splendid array of artifacts from medieval times, including unique stone carvings on ancient tombs and Romanesque architecture in the north nave. A tasteful interpretive center with an adjoining picnic garden makes this a perfect midday stop. Sheila Walsh, who runs the front desk, is as friendly and knowledgeable as they come. She's also a font of information about the area. Ask her for details of where to find the mysterious ruins of the Church of the Long Man, a couple of miles down the road. Tip: If you happen to be coming in spring or fall, plan your visit towards the end of the day. Wandering around these ancient places as the setting sun blushes the walls in peach and gold is an unforgettable experience.
- © Frommer's 2013
- Highly Recommended 2010