THE town, which gives name to this church, is situated in the barony of Kilkea and Moon, and was formerly a strong walled town, though now there are no traces remaining of its defence.
It had very early a priory, which was destroyed in the intestine broils of this country, and the ravages of the Danes in the 9th century, about which period the round tower, with the old church, and crosses, are said to have been erected, as has been mentioned in a former account of the church and round tower, page 43 in this volume.
THE third Lord Offaley, who married the daughter and heir of Walter de Riddlesford, to whom Strongbow, Earl of Pembroke, had granted, with other possessions, this of Castledermot, erected a castle in this town, as did his predecessor Thomas, Lord Offaley, in 1302, a monastery, which was soon after destroyed by the Scots, and pillaged, as mentioned before. It in part recovered its former appearance, and in 1328 had a chapel dedicated to St. Mary, built by Thomas, second Earl of Kildare, who, with his wife Joan, daughter of Richard, Earl of Ulster, were interred in it. In 1414, Thomas Crawley, Archbishop of Dublin, advanced here in opposition to the rebels in Leinster, with a small party, and by prayer solicited the divine assistance. The event proved fortunate, the enemy was defeated. In a parliament held here in August, 1499, an impost was granted to the King of twelve-pence in the pound on all merchandize imported to be sold, wine and oil excepted. The use of saddles was enjoyned at the same time, as before mentioned.
IN 1532, Gerald, the ninth Earl of Kildare, committed great devastations in Kilkenny, and, among others, Castledermot suffered considerably.
Abbey of Castle Dermot
In 1611, Castledermot was alternately in the possession of opposite
parties. In 1650, it was taken by Colonels Reynolds and Hewson, and from
that period its walls have mouldered away. The castle, and several
parts of the monasteries, still remain, and the round tower is yet used
as a belfry, having always been so,- no weak proof of the original
intention of the building. Its arch is semi-circular, and was adorned
with the Chevron moulding. The arches of the abbey exhibited in the
plates are beautiful.
(pp. 82-83, Vol. II; two plates - 'Abbey of Castle Dermot Co. Kildare' and 'Dermots Abbey Co. Kildare. PL.2.')
Groses's Antiquities of Ireland
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