Travelling through east Kilkenny on the R702 Thomastown to Paulstown road you pass through the town of Gowran. Here situated prominently in the northern side of the town just east of the road is the late thirteenth century church of St. Mary the Virgin.
View of the thirteenth century church of St. Mary at Gowran, Co. Kilkenny.
The church was served by a college of clerics, rather than monks, who lived in a house beside the church. The church consists of a nave with an aisle and a long chancel. The tower was added in the fourteenth or fifteenth centuries along with the battlements. In the seventeenth century a mortuary chapel was built on the south side of the western aisle by the Keally family. In the nineteenth century the chancel with the tower was converted into the parish church of Gowran.
There are a number of carved effigies and tombstones form the church preserved in the tower. Two fourteenth century effigies of a man and wife probably represent James Butler, the first Earl of Ormond who was buried in Gowran church in 1382 and Lady Eleanor de Bohun. There is also the thirteenth century effigy of a priest and a sixteenth century altar tomb of the Butlers as well as a Cross-inscribed ogham stone and an effigy of Sabh MacMurrough-Kavanagh, daughter of Domhnall mac Gerald MacMurrough-Kavanagh, King of Leinster and wife of Sir James Butler of Paulstown.
The fourteenth century burial effigy of James Butler first Earl of Ormond
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GPS coordinates 52.629312,-7.065067