The village of Kells is situated in the South East of Ireland in County Kilkenny. On the banks of the Kings River, it boasts an eclectic mix of history from monastic, to medieval, to milling. It was an important seat of power after the founding of its priory in 1193 and remained so for many years despite the priory multiple sackings and burnings.
Kells is mentioned in historical manuscripts as a large, thriving, market town. This led many historians to believe that the Burgess Court of Kells Priory (the large walled green area) was the site of the town as there are no other traces in the area. Recent discoveries made possible by aerial mapping/photography have shown this to be untrue.
We now know the location of this lost town and that it was much larger than Kells is today. Kells Priory would have been at the heart of the medieval town and has remarkably survived up to the present day substantially intact. It is one of the largest and most impressive monuments in Ireland, yet on a given visit, you may find that you have the entire priory to explore all to yourself. The priory has been maintained by the OPW (Office of Public Works) and a large tower, the Prior's Vill, has in recent times seen a great deal of restoration.
- Kells Mill Visitor Centre
- As of the 21st of July 2018, Kells Mill Visitor Centre is open to the public Wednesday to Sunday from 11am to 3pm. Visitors can enjoy a short video on the history of Kells, a guided tour, and a complimentary guidebook & map to enhance a visit to our village.
- Also on site is the popular Jen's Cafe and Kells Mill Craft Centre which are well worth a visit on their own.
- Group bookings can be facilitated outside of core hours by appointment, please call Tadhg (0863633630) to make a reservation.
We hope to promote and share the history and heritage of Kells. Excellent progress has been made in recent times to put Kells and it's rich history on the map. The beginning of tours at Kells Priory in 2016 is testament to that.
In time, we hope to build up this website into a useful online resource so that others might take an interest in the history of Kells and visit this beautiful place. We have received great help to date and would welcome anyone interested in getting involved.
If you feel you have information that could be shared on our website (photos new and old, drawings, articles, stories, artefacts, etc.) please get in touch, we would love to hear from you.
Our Progress to Date
- Historic Kells Facebook page started
- 'Historic Kells, Co. Kilkenny - Tour guide' published
- Watercolour of Kells in 1788 by Charles Vallancy purchased
- Historic Kells website launched
- Digital 3D model of Kells' Market Cross created
- The Kells lecture series is taken online in a national digital format called Trasna na Tíre