Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Old Ferns Abbey & Cathedral Co Wexford

                                              Above Image: Part of the vaulting

                          Above Image: Could be a bullaun but more like a cross base

                                               Above Image: Spiral stair in tower

                                       Above Image: Remains of the Cathedral

                                             Above Image: Cathedral North wall

                                             Above Image: Cathedral South wall

                                  Above 2 Images: Artefacts in the Cathedral area

A monastery was first founded here in the 6th century by St Aidan (aka St M’Aodog) but it was in 1158 that Diarmuid McMurrogh first constructed an Abbey for the Augustinians. It was dedicated to St. Mary. While waiting on the Norman invasion to whom he was allied, McMurrough took refuge in the Abbey in 1167. The Abbey remained in use until the dissolution in 1539 when the lands were passed to the English crown.
The intriguing looking ruin is located in a field behind the current Church of Ireland building and is accessed through the grounds of said Church. The most striking feature is the unusual tower standing some 60 feet of which the lower half is square and the upper half round. There are narrow defensive windows in the upper half. Some of the barrel vaulting is still evident in the chancel of the Romanesque styled Church and there is also a sacristy to the rear of the chancel.
Adjacent to the Abbey are the remains of the 13th century Cathedral founded by Bishop John St John. The cathedral came under attack by Fiach MacHugh O’Byrne in 1577. He was later forced to aid in rebuilding it. Only partial amounts of side walls of the chancel remain today containing 5 pointed arch windows in the North wall and just 1 in the South wall. There are some ancient crosses and grave slabs also on display here. Striking ruins that are easily accessed and worth seeing if in the area.
To find the ruins take the N11 Dublin to Wexford Road. The town of Ferns is directly on this route. As you enter the Town you will spot the large Church of Ireland Church on your left. You can park at the gate. The ruins of the Abbey & Cathedral can be accessed directly from these grounds.


  1. And interesting fact is that Diarmuid McMurrogh, who was so vilified in Irish history for inviting the Norman-English into Ireland, is buried in the grave yard just behind the modern church right next to these ruins. I was clued into their location by the guide at Ferns Castle the day we were there.

    1. Must check that out Joe. Even though I didn.t hear that from the guides when I visited Ferns Castle myself I have to say they were a very informative and friendly lot.

  2. Diarmuid McMurrogh has surfaced in my ancestry and it states there that he is buried in the graveyard behind the present church.

    1. Thanks for that info Steve. Very interesting ancestry to have!