St Canice’s Cathedral and Round Tower, Kilkenny, Ireland
- About the place
- Visitors information
Prior to his death in 1202, it was the vision of Bishop Felix O’Deleaney that the monastic settlement that was St Canice’s should house a Cathedral Church. Since the 1120s the See of Ossory had been shifted from Aghaboe to Kilkenny but no new building was erected to mark the move. The bishop was one of the few who realised the significance of the Norman settlement of the region. In consequence he established the foundations of the Cathedral with a view that the practically minded Norman overlords would sponsor the stone masons to erect a house of God worthy of both worship and prestige. Bishop O’Deleaney died before his vision became real. However, in laying the foundations, he left the challenge to his successors to complete the task.
The 13th century Cathedral of St Canice is the second longest cathedral in Ireland. The site on which it stands has been one of Christian worship since the 6th century. The architectural style is early Gothic and it is built of limestone. It has been carefully preserved in its original style and form. It is richly endowed with many stained glass windows including the east window which is a replica of the orinal 13th century window.
The Cathedral contains some of the finest 16th century monuments in Ireland. The memorials stretch right acoss the social spectrum from the great figures of the house of Ormonde to the humble shoemaker and carpenter. The baptismal font is original and the ancient stone of enthronement for bishops still exists under the seat of the medieval throne in the North Transept where to this day the bishops of Ossory are enthroned. The continental carvings on the choir stalls and the hammerbeam are not to be missed.
Beside the Cathedral stands the 9th century round tower. It may once have been a watchtower and a refuge and it can be climbed to give an unsurpassed vantage point to view the city of Kilkenny and the surrounding countryside (weather permitting.