LIke all the abbeys, Jerpoint was dissolved in 1540 and the lands were given to the Ormondes. It was a picturesque ruin by the 19th century. IN earlier years, the abbots of Jerpoint were important men, and in fact sat as peers in Parliament. However, by the end of the 13th century, the questonable business practices of the abbey (in requiring payment prior to delivery of wool) left them heavily in debt to the Italians -- owing them nearly 430 pounds. However, the abbey was later granted moneys from the mother house to continue building, as they were claiming to be so impoverished that they could not even take in travellers and offer hospitality as their order required. THey probably weren't that badly off, and in fact Jerpoint was one of the richest of the Cisterian abbeys in Ireland. It was so important that even when the Disollution of the monasteries that there was a suggestion to keep it open (although transforming the monks into lay brothers, apparently). This option was not accepted by the abbot.
One of the most interesting things about Jerpoint are the well-preserved columns of the cloister-walk. It has been restored, of course, but the carvings on the columns show knights, priests, dragons. The images are common -- and date from roughly 1400. They look like the illuminations fromcontemporary books, and some of them are quite lovely. The restoration was done in 1953
The cemetary is still used, and locals are buried here among the graves of medieval bishops and knights. The older tombs are elaborately decorated: Felix Dulany, the Bishop of Ossory (1202) is buried here, as well as a number of 13th century knights.
lost in ireland 2005 travelogue and photos © rfingerson