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With its encompassing fortification walls and towers, Kells is a glorious ruined monastery enfolded into the sloping south bank of the King’s River. In 1193, Baron Geoffrey FitzRobert founded the priory and established a Norman-style town beside it. The current ruins date from the 13th to 15th centuries. The priory’s wall has been carefully restored, and it connects seven towers, the remains of an abbey, and foundations of chapels and houses. You can tell by the thick walls that this monastery was well fortified, and those walls were built for a reason—it was frequently attacked. In the 13th century, it was the subject of two major battles and burned to the ground. (Despite the similar name, this is not the same monastery where the famous Book of Kells was stored for years before being moved to Dublin in the 1650s. That monastery is in County Meath, just off M3, about 65km/40 miles north of Dublin). The priory is less than a half-mile from the village of Kells, so if you have some time to spare, cross the footbridge behind it, which takes you on a beautiful stroll across the river and intersects a riverside walk leading to a picturesque old mill.