You can actually see the ruins at Athassal from the top of the Rock of Cashel, albeit very teeny. While the site is under the protection of Duchas (OPW) there are not upgrades or facilities here. The site looks to be open (and had cows wandering), and there is a stile and no particular signs about entering the site. Be careful and don't bother anything
The Augustinian priory here was founded in 1192 by William de Burgh, dedicated to St. Edmund, and it may have been largest medieval priory in Ireland. The site sprawls over about four acres of green farmland, and includes a huge gatehouse, tower, the remains of the church and cloiter, and parts of the chapter house. It was burned in 1239 and again in 1447 (one source says 1581) and the priory was dissolvd in the 16th century.
The Augustinian Canons Regular, who founded this priory, were not as organized as other groups in Ireland, and little remains of their history or organization. The property fell to the Earl of Ormond after the dissolution of the monastaries in Ireland, and feel into ruin.THey are now under the care of Duchas (OPW).
There is a large bridge and gate-lodge leading to the priory, which houses a church approximately 200 feet long with a large central tower at the main crossing. Outbuildings and administrative building range around the church, and at one time a small village surrounded the priory. All over the site, evidence of rebuidling and reuse is easily visible -- many of the walls contain holes for timbers that were used as they were built, and buildings have been extended and subdivided many times.
The main entrance is a larrge Romanesque doorway, and it would have been framed in marble. The center aisle of the church is currently used as a cemetary, and the body of William de Burgh rests in the chapel.
lost in ireland 2005 travelogue and photos © rfingerson