Great Connell was founded as an Augustinian Priory in 1202.This Priory was on the same side of the Lifey as Old Connel but was a mile or two higher up the river. It was founded by Myler Fitzhenry. He had come to Ireland with the first Anglo Normans.He brought monks from a Monastery in Monmouthshire in Britain to be in charge of this priory.Fitzhenry died in 1220 and was buried in the monastery at Great Connell.
From 1380 Great Connell monastery, like all monasteries in Ireland, was forbidden by the English Parliament to admit Irishmen.
In 1529 Walter Wellesley, who was Prior of Great Connell, was also made Bishop of Kildare. He died in 1539 and was buried in the Priory where his monument is still preserved. It is built into the wall surrounding the burial ground.Other parts of his tomb are also set in the wall to preserve them.
In 1537 an Act of Parliament confiscated the abbeys within the Pale. The Pale was an area around Dublin in the control of the English. Great Connell Abbey was not confiscated until 23rd. April 1541.
Once surrendered the Priory and all its lands were given to an Edward Randolph.Then Queen Elizabeth gave them to an Edward Butler, who sold his rights to a Sir Nicholas Whyte. Later still Great Connell and much of its lands, which were very extensive, passed to Thomas Eyre Powell.
Nearly the entire ruins of the priory of Great Connell were knocked down in 1816 and the stone was used to help build the Cavalry Barracks in Newbridge.