Athassel Abbey is a couple of miles outside of Golden which is just south of Rock of Cashel. We were told about this ruin by a guide in Waterford. He advised us not to miss it as it was extensive and deserted most of the time. He was right on both counts. You can see it from the road so pull your car into a driveway just past the ruin. Then walk back over the field. You cross a small river over ancient stone work before you can access the gate that gives entrance to the Abbey.
The Abbey Ruin has great arches and stone work that is still standing. It was established as an Augustinian Monastery in the 12th Century and is the largest priory in Ireland. It encompasses about 4 acres along the River Suir. The nave of the Abbey is used as a cemetery still. The body of Hugh de Burgho was laid to rest in the chapel 800 years ago. He is the man who established Athassel on this land in the 1100’s.
Some sculptures still remain in the Abbey.
You will find lots of this type of stone work in most Irish Abbeys. The stone masons were employed to decorate the churches and had to sign their work in order to get paid.
The ruin is massive and such fun to explore. You can wander inside and not even see one another it’s so large. There are several buildings on site that you can visit. Each one is interesting. The site was even more fascinating because we had it to ourselves. We were able to spend as much time as we wanted at this really wonderful spot.
We are constantly amazed at the number and variety of the ruins from sites established hundreds of years ago. They are just there and available to anyone who wants to explore. Such history and beauty bound together across a field. Wear your hiking boots and go explore some of these ancient places that are a little off the beaten track. You won’t regret it.