15 December 2020

Praying in Advent with
Lichfield Cathedral:
17, Tuesday 15 December 2020

‘Our Lady who Brings Down Walls’ ... a display at the Elias Icon Exhibition in Lichfield Cathedral some years ago (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

Throughout Advent and Christmas this year, I am using the Prayer Diary of the Anglican Mission Agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) for my morning reflections each day, and the Advent and Christmas Devotional Calendar produced at Lichfield Cathedral for my prayers and reflections each evening.

Advent is the Church’s mindful antidote to some of the diversion and consumerism of a modern Christmas. It prepares us to encounter Christ again in his joy and humility.

In ‘The Advent and Christmas Devotional Calendar 2020,’ the Dean and community at Lichfield Cathedral are inviting us to light our Advent candle each day as we read the Bible and join in prayer.

This calendar is for everyone who uses the Cathedral website, for all the Cathedral community, and for people you want to send it to and invite to share in the daily devotional exercise.

This is a simple prayer and bible-reading exercise to help us to mark the Advent Season as a time of preparation for the coming of Christ.

It is designed to take us on a journey, looking back to John the Baptist and Mary the Mother of Jesus; looking out into the world today, into our own hearts and experience; outwards again to Jesus Christ as he encounters us in life today and in his promise to be with us always.

You can download the calendar HERE.

The community at Lichfield Cathedral offers a number of suggestions on how to use this calendar:

● Set aside 5-15 minutes every day.

● Buy or use a special candle to light each day as you read and pray through the suggestions on the calendar.

● Try to ‘eat simply’ – one day each week try going without so many calories or too much rich food, just have enough.

● Try to donate to a charity working with the homeless or the people of Bethlehem.

● Try to pray through what you see and notice going on around you in people, the media and nature.

In addition, the Dean and clergy of Lichfield Cathedral are holding three vigils on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, 13, 14 and 15 December, from 7 to 9 p.m. each evening, ending with Compline. There is a variety of places to stop, think, look, and pray, with places to sit, stand, kneel or rest. The focus this evening (15 December) is ‘Out of Bethlehem – A Cry.’

‘This is a special occasion to reflect on today’s City of Bethlehem and support its people. As we celebrate the place of Jesus’s birth each year, we reflect this year on today’s Bethlehemites. The Covid-19 crisis has taken its toll – record numbers of deaths, high levels of infection and total economic collapse, all aggravated by the failure to achieve a peaceful settlement for the Palestinian people. They live surrounded by a 28 ft high security/separation wall and under Israeli occupation and military law.’

The cathedral is inviting visitors to light bees wax candles made in Bethlehem, smell incense from Jerusalem, watch some short video clips in the Chapter House, listen to Palestinian music, meditate on pictures sent from the Bethlehem Iconographers, pray in front of the icon written on the separation walls, ‘Our Lady who brings down Walls,’ and read and endorse the Palestinian Church Leaders’ appeal to the world Church not to forget the people of Palestine and Israel.

Tuesday 15 December 2020:

Read Saint Matthew 21: 28-32 (NRSVA):

[Jesus said,] 28 ‘What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, “Son, go and work in the vineyard today.” 29 He answered, “I will not”; but later he changed his mind and went. 30 The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, “I go, sir”; but he did not go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?’ They said, ‘The first.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, the tax-collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax-collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.


How do we do good even when we don’t want to or find it burdensome? Can the examples of others help? Think about and give thanks for those examples.

Continued tomorrow

Yesterday’s evening reflection

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

Keynsham Abbey, its
Co Limerick churches,
and legends about the
Knights Templar in Askeaton

The octagonal tower at Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton … but is there any evidence for the presence of the Knights Templar? (Photograph: Patrick Comerford 2020)

Patrick Comerford

It is a common belief in Askeaton that Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton, Co Limerick, was a foundation of the Knights Templar, and that the neighbouring octagonal tower was built by the Knights Templar.

However, it seems, there may be no primary, documentary evidence or sources to show that the Knights Templar ever had a foundation in Askeaton.

On the other hand, I have been challenged by my findings in recent weeks that the Augustinian Abbey of Keynsham in Somerset held Askeaton in the early mediaeval period, along with a number of other parish churches in this part of west Co Limerick, including Askeaton, Ballingarry, Bruree, Croagh, Lismakeera, and, for a time, Rathkeale.

Keynsham Abbey also had close links with successive proprietors of Askeaton Castle until the Reformation. Could it be, I was forced to ask, that Saint Mary’s was a dependent house of Keynsham Abbey, and was never associated with the Knights Templar?

The remaining ruins of Keynsham Abbey, between Bath and Bristol (Photograph: Rick Crowley/Wikipedia)

Keynsham Abbey in Somerset was founded ca 1166 by William, Earl of Gloucester. It was founded as a house of Augustinian canons regular, and continued until the dissolution of the monastic houses in 1539. Keynsham Abbey stood on the south side of the River Avon, where the River Avon meets the River Chew in the Keynsham Hams, an alluvial flood plain with open fields, pastures and meadows, divided by hedgerows and ditches.

This was the site of a fourth century Roman settlement, possibly called Trajectus, that was abandoned when the Roman legions left Britain. The Abbey was built near the old Roman Road that became the Bath Road connecting London with Bath and Bristol.

There was a religious settlement in Keynsham from the ninth or tenth centuries. Some sources say a later mediaeval abbey was established ca 1170, when Bartholomew de Sancto Mauro (Seymour) witnessed the founding charter. Other sources say the main abbey was founded by William de Clare, Earl of Gloucester, in 1166, the year his son Robert de Clare died, traditionally at his son’s dying request, or in the year 1180.

The priests at Keynsham Abbey were Augustinian canons regular and they adopted the rule of the Order of Saint Victor, so that the head of the religious house was always called an abbot, and the house was known as the House of the Canons of Saint Austin and Saint Victor. Other abbeys following this rule included Worspring (also called Woodspring), near Weston-super-Mare, and Stavordale near Wincanton, both in Somerset; Saint Augustine’s Abbey, Bristol; and Wormeley and Wigmore, both in Herefordshire.

At its foundation, the abbey was endowed with the Manor and the Hundred of Keynsham, totalling 9,920 ha (24,520 acres), and the parishes of Brislington, Burnett, Chelwood, Compton Dando, Farmborough, Keynsham, Marksbury, Nempnett Thrubwell, Pensford, Priston, Publow, Queen Charlton, Saltford, Stanton Drew, Stanton Prior, and Whitchurch. It also included many parish properties such as the church of Saint Mary and Saint Peter and Saint Paul and the chapels of Brislington, Charlton, Felton (or Whitchurch), Publow and Pensford.

The abbey also acquired considerable property in Ireland, including the churches at Askeaton, Rathkeale, Lismakeera, Croagh and Bruree in Co Limerick.

Askeaton Castle … part of the large estates granted to Hamo de Valognes in 1199 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2020)

King John granted large parts of mid-west Limerick to Hamo de Valognes, justiciar of Ireland, in 1199, including Askeaton, Rathkeale and Bruree, an area where the manor of Askeaton held sway. Hamo de Valognes had died by 1207, and his son and heir, Hamo de Valognes, was a minor. King John then granted much of the de Valognes estate to Hugh de Neville in 1207, and other lands in the area to Sir Roger Waspail, who held extensive estates in Dorset, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire, and also owned estates in present-day Co Laois, Co Dublin and Co Kildare.

Waspail, who became Seneschal of Ulster, granted the church of Rathkeale to Keynsham Abbey ca 1213-1226. He died in 1226 and was succeeded by his son, Henry Waspail, who reconfirmed his father’s grant of Rathkeale to Keynsham Abbey ca 1226-1228.

Henry died in 1233 and was succeeded by his brother Roger Waspail, who received a grant of Rathkeale in 1251 and became Deputy Justiciar of Ireland in 1262. He exchanged the manor of Rathkeale with John Maltravers in 1280 for a life interest in the manor of Wolcomb Maltravers, Dorset.

Following Roger Waspail’s grant of Rathkeale, Keynsham managed its new benefice, collecting income and appointing clerics. But the politically unstable situation in Ireland made it difficult to collect revenue.

Some time after 1237, under the direction of John de Bureford, a canon of the abbey and their proctor in Ireland, Keynsham granted the church of Rathkeale and nine dependent chapels and property rights in the cantred of Askeaton to the Bishop of Limerick. These nine chapels were Rathofergus [Rathfergus], Mayntaueny [Moytawnach], Mayryne [Kiltanna], Browry [Bruree], Culbalysward [Howardstown], Karracnefy [Cathernasse and Cahernarry], Mayncro [Croagh], Maymolcally [Kilnecally] and Orosse [unknown].

At the same time, Keynsham granted the church of Askeaton to the Priory of Saint Catherine outside the walls of Waterford. This priory was founded before 1207, and, like Keynsham, it followed the Augustinian rule of Saint Victor.

The ruins of the Augustinian Priory of Saint Mary in Rathkeale … the church of Rathkeale and nine dependent chapels were part of the possessions of Keynsham Abbey (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2020)

The grants to the Bishop of Limerick benefitted both sides. Keynsham realised capital without the expense of collecting while the bishop acquired another source of income. At the time, Bishop Hubert de Burgh was involved in costly disputes with the pope in Rome and the government in Dublin, and was forced to borrow money from Italian bankers. He had difficulty repaying these loans and interest was accumulating. In 1237, the year he received the Keynsham parishes, Bishop Hubert repaid 160 marks on a loan that included 54 marks of interest.

The early 13th century grant by Roger Waspail of Rathkeale to Keynsham Abbey failed to mention any other parishes. But the grant to Bishop Hubert ca 1237 shows Rathkeale had nine dependent chapels in area that extended from Askeaton to Bruree. The church of Askeaton was not named as a benefice but must have formed part of Waspail’s grant to the abbey. The church in Askeaton was given to the priory of Saint Catherine in Waterford ca 1237. Sometime afterwards, Askeaton was granted to Bishop Hubert of Limerick by the priory. Before 1250, Bishop Hubert granted Askeaton to Keynsham.

An early Vicar of Askeaton, Thomas de Cardiff, is named in 1237, and it is said that Saint Mary’s Church in Askeaton was built in 1291. It is also said that the Knights Templars had a commandery in Askeaton from 1298 until they were disbanded in 1307. But all the available documentary evidence shows Askeaton remained in the hands of Keynsham Abbey and its dependency in Waterford.

Keynsham Abbey also held the parish of Ballingarry from the mid-1200s, and by the 15th century, Ballingarry was the chief parish held by Keynsham, with Askeaton a junior parish. Ballingarry may have been transferred by Keynsham to another religious house in the 13th century, like its other Limerick possessions, but it is also possible that the abbey kept control of Ballingarry without interruption.

From 1294 on, the Abbots of Keynsham appointed attorneys to manage their Irish property, which suggests that Ballingarry and Askeaton were under its direct ownership. These attorneys collected the tithes and incomes from the Limerick parishes and sent the surplus back to Keynsham.

The former parish church in Ballingarry … Ballingarry and Askeaton were owned directly by the Abbots of Keynsham (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

The barony, castle and manor of Askeaton were held by the late Thomas de Clare, son of Richard de Clare, in 1320.

At the same time, the Abbot of Keynsham held the Rectory of Askeaton in 1320, and the income from the rectory was for the abbot’s own use. The abbey also had the right to nominate the Vicars of Askeaton. The rectory of Askeaton was valued at 16 marks while the vicarage was valued at 8 marks.

The responsibilities of the abbey’s Irish attorneys increased in the early 1320s. But the abbey suffered considerable financial losses in England, its revenues could not meet its needs, and it lost the income from many parishes through fraud, default, theft, the death of cattle, poor crops, flood damage and wars.

Those wars were caused mainly by Maurice FitzThomas FitzGerald, 1st Earl of Desmond, as he tried to acquire the Irish estates of the de Clare absentee heirs. When Thomas de Clare, son of Richard de Clare, died in 1321 without any direct heirs, his possessions were divided between his aunts, Margaret, wife of Sir Bartholomew de Badlesmere, and Maud, wife of Sir Robert de Wells, while the de Clare estates that included the Limerick parishes owned by Keynsham Abbey passed as dower land to Joan, widow of Richard de Clare.

Maurice FitzGerald regarded all the former de Clare lands in Co Kerry, Co Limerick and Co Cork as his by descent, along with those in Thomond. However, the losses suffered by Keynsham in these wars is unknown.

The church ruins at Affane, near Cappoquin … one of the parishes in west Waterford acquired by Kenynsham Abbey in 1413 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2020)

When the Bishop of Bath and Wells visited Keynsham Abbey in 1350, he reported the abbey neglected to keep its gates safely closed, leaving the church ornaments and valuables open to being stolen. Lay people were allowed into the refectory contrary to the rules, nightly offices were irregularly kept, poor financial accounts were kept, estates were let out at low rents, and the title deeds and charters of the abbey were not stored in a secure location. Lay men and women entered the abbey at unlawful hours, the abbey’s staff were involved in stealing, the poor were not being served, and the monks used sporting dogs.

Keynsham Abbey acquired the Rectory of Dungarvan, Co Waterford, from Thomas FitzGerald, 5th Earl of Desmond, in 1413, and with it the right of presentation to 13 parishes across mid-Co Waterford: Affane, Aglish, Clashmore, Clonea, Colligan, Fews, Kilgobinet, Kilronan, Kinsalebeg, Lisgenan, Ringagonagh and Whitechurch.

It has been suggested that Keynsham gave Desmond the advowsons for its Co Limerick parishes in exchange for Dungarvan, but there is no evidence to support this. A document in 1427 shows Keynsham as holding two Limerick parishes, Askeaton and Ballingarry.

The Limerick parishes of Askeaton and Ballingarry were situated in the heart of the earldom. A stable earldom was to the obvious benefit of Keynsham. It would appear that the abbey opened doors for the Earl of Desmond in London and among the regional magnates.

Sometime before 1427, a new vicar was appointed to Askeaton. Edmund McAdam, had tendered his resignation to Cornelius O’Dea, Bishop of Limerick. The Rector of Ballingarry, John Kyndton, was asked by William, Abbot of Keynsham, to present a new vicar. Kyndton selected James Oleayn, a priest of the Diocese of Killaloe, and Bishop Cornelius instituted Cleayn, despite Gillabertus Ykatyl illegally holding Askeaton for more than a year.

But James Oleayn had doubts about whether the presentation and institution were valid, and petitioned the Pope for papal letters to make good his position. He held Askeaton in June 1427 when he was charged to pay 6 marks in first fruits.

Edmund McAdam later revoked his resignation and recovered possession of Askeaton. But McAdam resigned as Vicar of Askeaton again by 1458, and the public notary of Limerick and other judges gave the vicarage to Thomas Macega. John Maclanchie presented a claim of false possession and took his case to Rome, although the vicarage had not lawfully devolved to the Pope.

Pope Eugene IV sent the case to a papal auditor who favoured Thomas Macega over John Maclanchie. Subsequently, Philip Offlait, a priest of Limerick, brought false charges against Macega and demanded the removal of Macega from Askeaton. Macega appealed to Rome where Pope Nicholas V sent the case to a papal auditor who ruled against Offlait.

The Bishop of Limerick then admitted Macega to Askeaton, but Offlait objected, and faced with a choice between two priests in his diocese, the bishop expelled both candidates and appointed Philip Ocathill, a priest of Limerick, to Askeaton.

Macega appealed to Rome once again, was granted a dispensation from his illegitimacy as the son of unmarried parents, and received a new mandate for Askeaton. The vicarage was valued at 8 marks and the previous Vicars of Askeaton were named as Gilbert Itaschill and William Ymolcorkra, along with Edmund McAdam. It is not known if Macega succeeded to the vicarage or if more appeals were made, and Keynsham Abbey is not mentioned in these cases.

The Rector of Ballingarry was proctor of Keynsham Abbey in 1427 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

The rights of Keynsham Abbey’s in Ballingarry were also challenged. Sometime ca 1399-1426, John Fitzgerald of Pobbnesheagh had founded a Franciscan house at Kilshane. In 1488, John Lesse, the minister of the Ballingarry community was in a dispute over tithes.

The vicarage of Ballingarry became vacant ca 1409 with the death of William, son of Thomas Ymalcorkra. The vicarage was then valued at 12 marks. Thomas Saleys alias Cristour, was presented to Ballingarry by Keynsham Abbey as patron of the parish. But Thomas had doubts about the abbey’s authority and petitioned the Pope for a mandate that was issued to the Chancellor of Limerick.

John Kyndton, Rector of Ballingarry, seems to have acted as the abbey’s proctor a in 1427, collecting tithes and income from farming the landed estates.

Gilbert O’Liathain or O’Loan, the Vicar of Ballingarry in 1445, exchanged the parish for Croom with Malachy O’Condoub (O’Conify), with the sanction of the Bishop of Limerick. But Malachy had doubts about the exchange and in July 1445 he received a papal mandate to confirm the exchange. Ballingarry was valued at 16 marks. At the same time, Malachy was made Prebendary of Kilrossanty in Lismore.

Gillacius (or Walter) O’Keyt, a canon of Lismore, became Dean of Lismore and Prebendary of Kilrossanty in 1450, as well as Prebendary of Saint Munchin’s (Limerick) and Vicar of Ballingarry. O’Keyt got a papal dispensation on account of charges of simony, perjury and other irregularities to legitimise these appointments. Keynsham Abbey was acknowledged as holding the right of presentation to Ballingarry and a new claimant emerged in 1452, when William Torriger was presented to Ballingarry by Keynsham Abbey.

Torringer was instituted by John Mothell, Bishop of Limerick, in succession to Malachy O’Conify, but he was opposed by Gillacius O’Keyt, the former vicar. Torriger and O’Keyt both petitioned Pope Nicholas V. The papal auditor judged in favour of Torriger, and issued a perpetual silence on O’Keyt.

O’Keyt surrendered the vicarage to Torriger, but a sentence of excommunication threatened his role as Dean of Lismore. O’Keyt was further reprimanded when he tried to celebrate masses. He petitioned the pope in 1454, and the Bishop of Lismore received a mandate to lift the sentence of excommunication and to restore Okeyt to full cleric status.

O’Keyt filed another petition relating to Ballingarry in 1457, receiving absolution from the pope for simony and a mandate to remain Dean of Lismore.

Matthew (Mahon or Malachi) O’Griffa, a canon of Limerick, received a Papal dispensation because his illegitimacy as the son of a priest. He was then appointed Vicar of Dysert in Killaloe Diocese, Prebendary of Saint Munchin’s (Limerick), Archdeacon of Limerick, and Vicar of Ballingarry in 1458. He was also Dean of Cashel (1455), and later became Bishop of Killaloe (1463-1483).

The financial details of some of Keynsham’s Limerick parishes are disclosed in a papal mandate in 1460. According to Cornelius Ydeayd, a priest of the Diocese of Limerick, the abbey held a number of rectorial tithes in the parishes of Ballingarry and Askeaton. These tithes were not collected by the abbey’s representative, but were leased to lay people who paid a yearly rent. Ydeayd feared they could easily pass to these lay people to the loss of Keynsham, and Pope Pius II asked the Bishop of Limerick to investigate.

Nicholas Wale, a priest of Limerick diocese, was appointed the Vicar of Ballingarry in 1488, and Philip O’Kail was to be removed. William O’Muleoni, a priest of Limerick, became Vicar of Ballingarry and Kilscannell in 1492.

Saint Carthage’s Cathedral, Lismore … Gillacius O’Keyt was Dean of Lismore and Vicar of Ballingarry (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2020)

As for Keynsham Abbey, Edward I stayed at the Abbey in 1276 on his way from Bath to Bristol. A small town eventually grew up around Keynsham Abbey, and in 1307 Edward II granted the abbey a weekly market on Tuesdays and a yearly fair on the Feast of the Assumption (15 August).

As the centuries progressed, the abbey became embroiled in a number of disputes over monastic life and discipline. When the bishop visited Keynsham in 1350, he found the canons were failing to properly guard and secure the outer gate of the abbey, so that the ornaments of the church and treasures of the house could be easily stolen. The canons were also admonished to keep better household accounts, attend prayers more regularly, and give up luxuries such as hunting dogs and dining abroad.

When the bishop visited again in 1353, he found there was great neglect throughout the abbey. The doors were unguarded, household accounts were not properly kept, prayers were not attended to regularly, and up to two-thirds of the canons were regularly missing community meals and engaging in gaming.

Similar issues arose again in 1450, when the bishop made more complaints about the management of the abbey. Bishop Beckington of Bath and Wells found several poor standards at Keynsham in 1451, but Abbot Walter Bekynsfield was aged and unable to introduce changes. Another commission in 1455 found no improvements and forced the abbot to resign. Thomas Tyler was appointed the new abbot, but resistance was still strong.

When Canon John Ledbury, a leader of this resistance, was transferred to Worspring Abbey in 1458, matters began to settle. But resistance resurfaced, and further commissions were issued in 1458 and 1459.

The fortunes of Keynsham Abbey received a boost in 1495 when Jasper Tudor (1431-1495), Duke of Bedford and Earl of Pembroke, asked to be buried in a tomb within Keynsham Abbey and gave 100 marks to make the tomb. He was a maternal half-brother of King Henry VI and uncle of Henry VII. He left income for four priests to sing perpetually in the abbey for his soul and the souls of his father, mother brother and his predecessors. Jasper Tudor also gave his best gown of gold to the abbey for vestments.

But Keynsham Abbey and its English and Irish interests was facing increasing and eventually irresistible demands for reform. The Augustinian general chapter in 1518 heard that without reform the order faced imminent ruin.

Cardinal Wolsey obtained papal approval to reform all monastic houses in England, including the Augustinians following the rule of Saint Victor at Keynsham. His new rules were presented at a conference of leading Augustinians, Benedictines and Cistercians in 1519. The Benedictines rejected the rules almost immediately, followed by the Augustinians in 1520.

Keynsham Abbey was in urgent need of reform and visitation in 1526 on behalf of the bishop of Bath and Wells found a deplorable situation. Things were so bad that the abbot, John Stourton, admitted the abbey was in ruins. The choir of the church was in a filthy state, frequented by dogs as if it were a kennel, water and fuel were scarce and there was a lack of books for divine service. None of the brothers studied at Oxford and many of the novices were illiterate.

The last Abbot of Keynsham, John Staunton, the prior, William Herne, the subprior John Arnold, and 12 other canons, subscribed to the Act of Supremacy at the Tudor Reformation in 1534.

The Irish properties of Keynsham Abbey were seized under the Act of Absentees (1536), and this prevented the Earls of Desmond from having any further claims to Dungarvan.

John Tregonwell and William Petre, Henry VIII’s and Secretary of State were sent to the abbey as ‘visitors’ in 1539. The abbot and ten monks surrendered the abbey, and the abbot and canons received pensions or annuities.

When Keynsham’s possessions in Co Waterford were surveyed in 1541, they included the rectory of Dungarvan and its vicarages. The income from Dungarvan and its vicarages was granted for 21 years to James Butler, Earl of Ormond, and James Butler, Viscount Thurles. The Vicar of Dungarvan, Maurice Connell, was left in office for life, as were any vicars of the dependent parishes.

For many years after the dissolution the name of Keynesham Abbey and its Irish possessions continued to appear in the state papers.

The surrender of Keynsham Abbey began a 400-year period of the buildings and site being torn apart and plundered for building materials. Within two years of the surrender of the abbey, the conventual church was torn down and sold off. Richard Walker was paid £12 for melting the lead on the church, the cloister, and the steeple. Frances Edwards bought the seven bells of the church and other buildings attached to it.

The site was sold to Thomas Bridges, who tore down the remaining buildings and built a family house on the site and who handed over and left-over stone from the abbey church for the repair of the bridge and causeway over the River Avon.

The family home built by Bridges was demolished in 1776. Victorian housebuilders and excavators began actively taking stone from the site in 1865, and this continued until the beginning of the 20th century, when only isolated stretches of unsuitable stone or stone buried under discarded material were left. In some places, so much material was disturbed and excavated for reuse that quarrying had reached down to bedrock.

There were proposals in 1964 for the Keynsham bypass of the A4 to pass directly through the site of the abbey, destroying what was left on the site. Since then, the remains have been designated a Grade I listed building and scheduled ancient monument. The abbey ruins can be seen in the Memorial Park at Keynsham, near the A4 and Keynsham railway station.

Saint Mary’s Church and the tower at Askeaton … the Abbots of Keynsham retained the Rectory of Askeaton until the Reformation (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2020)

The Abbots of Keynsham (and Rectors of Askeaton):

William, fl 1175, 1205
George de Eston
Richard, fl1225, 1230
John, fl 1233
Peter, fl 1253, 1259
Gilbert, 1274
Robert, fl1272, 1277
Adam, 1308
Nicholas de Taunton, fl 1308, 1343
John Bradford, elected 1348
William Peschon, 1377
Thomas, occurs 1396, 1427
Walter Bekynsfield, fl 1438, 1455
Thomas or John Tyler, elected 1456
John Gybruyn, 1486
John Graunt, elected 1496
Philip Keynsham, 1499, died 1505
William Rolfe, elected 1506, fl 1514
John Staunton or Sturton, 1528-1539

The tower at Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton, Co Limerick (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2020)

Sources include:

JB Leslie (ed), Clergy of Limerick, Clergy of Ardfert and Aghadoe, Biographical Succession Lists, (2015 edition, ed DWT Crooks, Ulster Historical Foundation for the Diocesan Council of Limerick and Killaloe
‘Houses of Augustinian canons: The abbey of Keynsham,’ in A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 2, ed William Page (London, 1911), pp 129-132. British History Online, http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/som/vol2/pp129-132 (last accessed, 14 December 2020)
(Revd) Iain Knox (ed), Clergy of Waterford, Lismore and Ferns (originally compiled by Henry Cottom, JB Leslie and WH Rennison (Ulster Historical Foundation, for the Diocesan Councils of Cashel and Ossory, and Ferns, 2008). Niall C.E.J. O’Brien, ‘Keynesham Abbey in Ireland’ (Medieval News, 30 September 2014), http://celtic2realms-medievalnews.blogspot.com/2014/09/ (last accessed, 14 December 2020)
Patrick J Cronin, Eas Céad Tine, ‘The Waterfall of the Hundred Fires’ (Askeaton: Askeaton Civic Trust, 1999)

Praying in Advent with USPG:
17, Tuesday 15 December 2020

‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today’ (Matthew 21: 28) … vineyards on the hillsides in Tuscany (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

Throughout Advent and Christmas this year, I am using the Prayer Diary of the Anglican Mission Agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) for my morning reflections each day, and the Advent and Christmas Devotional Calendar produced at Lichfield Cathedral for my prayers and reflections each evening.

I am one of the contributors to the current USPG Diary, Pray with the World Church, introducing the theme of peace and trust later this month.

Before the day gets busy, I am taking a little time this morning for my own personal prayer, reflection and Scripture reading.

The theme of the USPG Prayer Diary this week (13 to 19 December 2020) is ‘Reflections on Migration.’ This week’s theme is introduced in the diary by Richard Reddie, Director of Justice and Inclusion, Churches Together in Britain and Ireland.

Tuesday 15 December 2020:

Let us give thanks for the work of Mediterranean Hope, an Italian-based church organisation working to help refugees gain sanctuary in Italy.

The Collect of the Day (Advent III):

O Lord Jesus Christ,
who at your first coming sent your messenger
to prepare your way before you:
Grant that the ministers and stewards of your mysteries
may likewise so prepare and make ready your way
by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just,
that at your second coming to judge the world
we may be found an acceptable people in your sight;
for you are alive and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
one God, world without end.

The Advent Collect:

Almighty God,
Give us grace to cast away the works of darkness
and to put on the armour of light
now in the time of this mortal life
in which your Son Jesus Christ came to us in great humility;
that on the last day
when he shall come again in his glorious majesty
to judge the living and the dead,
we may rise to the life immortal;
through him who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Read Saint Matthew 21: 28-32 (NRSVA):

[Jesus said,] 28 ‘What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, “Son, go and work in the vineyard today.” 29 He answered, “I will not”; but later he changed his mind and went. 30 The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, “I go, sir”; but he did not go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?’ They said, ‘The first.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, the tax-collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax-collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.

Continued tomorrow

Yesterday’s morning reflection

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org