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Environmental impact assessment at Graney, Co. Kildare

The remains of Graney Abbey today.

A proposed development in Co. Kildare required the Environmental impact assessment (EIA) of the little known Medieval Nunnery of Graney Abbey. The Nunnery was founded by Sir Walter de Ridelisford in 1200 AD in his barony of Kilkea to the east of Castledermot, and was called the Abbey of the Invocation of the Blessed Virgin Mary for the Canonesses of the Order of St. Augustine and was endowed with the whole of what is now the parish of Graney. The Abbey received a charter from King John and Pope Innocent III in 1207. Throughout much of the later Medieval period Graney Abbey was situated in the border lands of between the Anglo-Norman barony of Kilkea and the lands of the O’Tuathail and later the MacMurrough-Kavanagh. The position of the Abbey was recognised by the Government in

Dublin and in 1409 King Henry IV granted permission to Graney Abbey to converse with, shelter and give or sell provisions or clothing to Irish enemies and English rebels by whom the convent was surrounded on all sides. By the sixteenth century the Abbey consisted of a church and graveyard, c.2,400 acres of land including fields, orchards and gardens, and houses 100 houses for the nuns and tenants. The Abbey was officially dissolved in 1538 and King Henry VIII granted the lands to Lord Leonard Grey, the Marshall of Ireland. By 1558 Graney had been sold to the Earl of Kildare for a considerable sum. Graney remained in the hands of the Earl of Kildare and his seccessors until the nineteenth century when it was inherited by the Butlers who sold it to the Irish Land Commission in 1908. Today nothing of the Abbey survives above ground. Archaeological monitoring of development at the site of the Abbey in 1999 and 2000 identified skeletons, probably from the graveyard, and sherds of medieval and post-Medeival pottery and work in the area was stopped (Excavation License No. 99E0052).

Plan of the remains of Graney Abbey in 1836.

Further reading
FitzGerald, W. 1914. The Priory, or Nunnery, of Graney, County Kildare, Journal of the Kildare Archaeological Society VII, No. 6, 373-81.

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