The first foundation at Knocktopher, Co Kilkenny was made in 1356 at the behest of James, second Earl of Ormonde, and was known as St Saviour’s. The original friary building still remains and is today used as a guesthouse – “Knocktopher Abbey” – and stands opposite our current friary. In the graveyard opposite today’s friary and adjacent to the old abbey stands a ruin which is actually the ruin of a former parish church. As with so many other religious Orders in Ireland and England during the Reformation the friary was lost in 1542.

The Carmelites formally returned to Knocktopher in 1735, two years before Pope Clement XII canonically restored the Irish Province. In 1843 the new church was consecrated amid much rejoicing as the old church had become quite dilapidated, and it is said that the stone for the new church was drawn by the local people in one day. During the 1880s the friary also comprised a farm which provided food and income for the community. On January 1, 1852, the College of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, Queen of Carmel was opened in Knocktopher to provide an education for those who would later take up ecclesiastical studies or enter various professions. It was affiliated to the Catholic University in Dublin in 1875. This college lasted throughout the nineteenth century and into the early part of the twentieth century. From time to time the friary was also home to the Province’s novices.

Today the Community also serves the Parish of St Martin, Ballyhale, which was entrusted to the Irish Province by the Bishop of Ossory in February 1974.

Fr Prior, O.Carm.,
Carmelite Friary,
Co Kilkenny.

Tel: 056 7768675.
Fax: 056 7768237.


The above pictures show the inside of the Carmelite Church, Knocktopher,
the Church and Friary, Knocktopher,
a Mass Rock used by Carmelites in the area during Penal times.

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