Casting Light on the Subject


An elaborate late-Gothic window with double trefoil arch below a quatrefoil at the east end of the south aisle of St Mary’s, Gowran, County Kilkenny. The core of the present building dates from around 1275 when it was erected on the site of an earlier monastery. St Mary’s was a collegiate church, meaning it was placed under the care of a “college” of clerics who lived in a community without submitting to any specific monastic rule. Since the 19th century the chancel and central tower have served as the local Church of Ireland church while the main body has remained a picturesque ruin. The play of patterned sunlight seen here comes from the great west window at the nave end.

3 comments on “Casting Light on the Subject

  1. Erm, hardly accurate on what constitutes a collegiate church, but good to see the building all the same.

    • Thank you for your comment. While it is perfectly possible to discuss what constitutes a collegiate church at length, I regard my single-sentence summary as perfectly adequate to the occasion, which was intended to contextualise the photograph.

      • Well, I’m afraid the single-sentence summary is incorrect, though also found on Wikipedia and some other Irish based sites apart from yours. Cf. OED 4. collegiate church: (a) a church which is endowed for a body corporate or chapter, but has no bishop’s see. In a medieval context, whether this body corporate consists of canons regular or canons secular is a thing indifferent, and in these islands, they generally were canons regular. There is strong evidence to suggest that the canons of St Mary’s followed the Augustinian Rule.

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