Kells Things to Do
More a crossroads than a village, but I can't complain the sun was shining and it was very warm. The village was founded around 1170 when the Normans arrived in the area. As mentioned there is a horse trough said to have been used by famous racehorses from the Kells area including Red Rum, winner of the Liverpool Grand National 3 times and second twice. The original village water pump is right at the crossroads where you can turn left back to the priory.
Along this stretch of river there were at one time seven mills, most serving the priory. Mullins mill is situated on the site of the first mill of 1170 serving the castles, just across the river, and then the priory a little later. This mill is still in working order and part is now a mill museum. We had the luck to bump into the present owner of the thatched cottage 100 metres away who related part of the history of the cottage and its owners, the Mullins family. The large Hutchinsons corn mill, also known as Bolands, is dated from the very early 1800's and worked for about 100 years before closing. It was re-commissioned in 1973 but closed again and is now waiting renovation.
From 1193 one of the rare religious monuments to possess imposing walls and battlements like here at Kells, the Augustinian priory has stood the test of time, after being often sacked. The last time by the infamous Oliver Cromwell. Parts of the priory were added later such as the centre tower from 1500, although the church to which it it attached is original. The large open ground to the south is known as Burgess' court and was built to protect the livestock and the villagers. There is renovation and consolidating work going on and care should be taken in wandering on the site.
Kells Off The Beaten Path
The Kilree monastic site lies just a couple of kms from the Kells priory carpark. You see the 29 metre high tower first, so no risk of missing the site which is well marked, though not much room to park up.. The church itself seems to have been dated roughly (10th or 11th c) but the round tower is 11th c and the high cross in the field behind is from the 8th/9th c. The east and west walls have a sort of flying buttress, known as antae, holding them up. The round tower is unusual in having a square base and also the doorway is only about 5 feet from the ground. The High Cross is halfway across a field that was full of cows when we visited. It is 2.65 metres high and has this large boss on one side. There seems to be a missing cap-stone as there is a visible tenon on the top.