Kells Abbey

Mac Nissi is said to have chosen the site at Kells as his retreat.

After he founded the monastery at Connor, Mac Nissi is said to have chosen the site at Kells as his retreat, where he could withdraw from the world to meditate.  The religious settlements at Kells and Connor were closely associated.

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Around 1100 the abbey at Kells became an Augustinian establishment. In 1415, it was granted resources to repair the church and other buildings. With the dissolution of the monasteries, the abbey was surrendered in 1542. In 1605, James I granted the former abbey to Sir James Hamilton. It was later granted to Sir Arthur Chichester. A survey in the 1650s recorded that the church at Kells was out of repair.

The western gable and portions of the walls of the abbey are still standing. The O’Hara family of Crebilly built a vault next to the ruins, probably in the 1700s.

The site is locally known as ‘Templemoyle’, meaning 'the bald or ruined church'. In the past, the church was also was also known as 'Blessed Virgin Mary of the Desert' and ‘Templemurry’ meaning 'the church of Mary’. 

Churchyard Facts & Figures
First used as a Christian religious siteBelieved to be before 514AD
Papal taxation of c.1300£8 6s. 8d
Church name used in Papal taxation c. 1300Desert of Connor
Replaced byN/A