When I’m in Ireland I will on occasion take a walk to the Abbey of Our Lady of Kyrie Eleison. The abbey, founded in 1154, lies in ruins just outside the town of Abbeydorney in Co. Kerry. Truth is the ruins are not spectacular or picturesque. It is a quiet place where few people go, and you hear nothing but bird song and cows mooing in the distance. I have sat on the steps that lead to the open sky and sipped a cappuccino while enjoying the solitude. It is a place where if you listen closely the muse will give you stories of brave monks, noble knights and fair ladies. As a medieval reenactor I love the idea of having access to medieval ruins that don’t involve money and crowds, a place where I can sit and listen to the ghosts of history.
This past October I was saddened to see the abbey encircled by green fencing. The only access I found was an opening around the side, left there, I suppose to allow mourners access to the graves that are inside. A sign warns people not to approach because the ruins are in a dangerous condition and if access is required to contact the caretaker. I never felt endangered by the abbey when I visited and I wondered if historical curiosity would be considered a requirement? Another sign asked you to take your litter with you.
It seems there is money to post new signs and put up fencing, but no money to put up a new sign that tells the abbey’s history. The sign that is there is badly faded and impossible to read. It’s almost as if the government wants to keep people from their own history and keep the abbey silent.
The fence may be necessary, but it is a desecration. It shouts there’s nothing here but decay and it is a barrier to the peacefulness that can be found there.
When I heard a car approach, I scrambled out of the abbey, for fear of getting caught someplace I shouldn’t be. That is the first time I felt that way. Imagine feeling you’re doing something wrong when all you’re doing is appreciating the building, listening to it tell its story, daydreaming about its glorious past.
I saw a brown hare jumping among the tombstones—the first time I saw wildlife there. The hare’s presence told me that the place is all but forgotten now. May he be a better guardian of the abbey than humans have been.