St Canice’s Cathedral , also known as Kilkenny Cathedral , is a cathedral of the Church of Ireland in Kilkenny City, Ireland. It is in the ecclesiastical province of Dublin.

Former Cathedral of the Diocese of Ossory, it is now one of six cathedrals in the United Dioceses of Cashel and Ossory.


The current building dates from the 13th century and is the second longest cathedral in Ireland, after St. Patrick Cathedral, Dublin. Next to the cathedral stands a 100 ft 9th century round tower. St Canice tower is an example of a well preserved 9th century “Celtic Christian” round tower. It is dedicated to St. Canice. It is one of only two such medieval round tower in Ireland which can be climbed to the top. [1]

The cathedral stands on an ancient site that has been used for Christian worship since the 6th century. The 1120S see of Ossory was moved from Aghaboe to Kilkenny.

After the English Reformation, was the reformed church in Ireland was established by decree of the Irish Parliament to become the State Church of the Kingdom of Ireland Church of Ireland, take possession of most church property (and so keep a large stock of religious architecture and other objects, even some later destroyed). The significant majority of the population remained faithful to Catholicism, despite the political and economic benefits of membership in the state church. Since St Canice Cathedral was taken over in this way, the Roman Catholic followers were therefore forced to worship elsewhere. St Mary’s Cathedral in Kilkenny was built later for the Roman Catholic diocese.

Cathedral contains some 16’s of monuments. The architectural style of the cathedral is early Gothic and is built of limestone. It is rich with many stained glass windows, including the eastern window that is a copy of the original 13th century windows. The cathedral contains some of the finest 16-century monuments in Ireland.


Kilkenny was the ancient capital of the Kingdom of Ossory and St Canice Cathedral stands on a site that has experienced Christian worship since the 6th century. The name “Kilkenny” self retains the anglicised version of the Irish Cill Chainnigh , which translates as “Church of Cainneach”, or “Canice ‘.

The earliest church on the site believed to have been made of wood, later replaced in the later Middle Ages, with a Romanesque stone church. This was in turn replaced by the current impressive medieval cathedral. A few kilometers from the current south transept stands an impressive 9th century round tower, 100 feet high. [2] Available only by a steep set of internal ladders may once have been both a watchtower and a refuge. The Summit provides a clear picture of Kilkenny and the countryside around. The hill that the cathedral is believed to be the center of the first major settlement in Kilkenny, and the round tower suggests an early church foundation. [3] Much less is known about the early secular structures, but the area around the cathedral, called Irish Town, is the oldest part of the present city.

There is nothing about Kilkenny in the life of Cainnech of Aghaboe, CiarĂ¡n of Saighir or any of the early annels in Ireland suggests that in these times, it was not of great importance. [4] The Annals of the Four Masters recorded items for Cill Chainnigh in 1085 ( “Ceall-Cainnigh was mostly burned”) and again in 1114 ( “… Cill-Cainnigh … were all burnt in”). [4] [5]

The current building began in the 13th century, when it was in the western part of Kilkenny, [2] and is showing some similarities with St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, both dating from the same period and completed by the end of the 13th century. [6 ]

In the Red Book of Ossory , fifteen pages dating from around 1324 contains sixty Latin verses, or Cantilenae written by Richard Ledred, Bishop of Ossory, better known for his connection to trial for heresy and witchcraft. As stated elsewhere in the Red Book , wrote Ledred these verses “of the Vicars Choral Kilkenny Cathedral, his priests and clergy, to be sung at major festivals and other occasions, their throats and mouths, consecrated to God, could not be contaminated with theater -, indecent, and secular songs. ” [7]

Cathedral “restored” between 1844 and 1867 without removing all the important medieval features. [8]


Cross the cathedral was built in the early English, or English Gothic style of architecture, of limestone, with a low central tower supported on the black marble pillars. Exterior walls, apart from the gables are embattled, and there are two small spiers in the western part. The cathedral is seventy-five yards long, and its width along the transepts is forty yards. [2]

Inside the high pointed arches form entrances from the ship in the choir and the two transepts. Between the nave and each time is a series of five black marble clustered columns, with high molded arches. The nave is lit by a large west window and five clerestory windows, while the aisles each have four windows. The choir has a groined ceiling with fine tracery and a central group of cherubim. [2] The baptismal font is medieval and ancient stone enthronement of bishops are still under the seat of the medieval throne in the north transept, where today the bishops of Ossory is enthroned.

The cathedral contains some of the finest ancient monuments in Ireland, one to Bishop David, and the tombs of many bishops of Ossory and several owners of Kilkenny Castle. [2] The subjects monuments ranging widely across the social spectrum, from large numbers in the house Ormonde to humble shoemaker and carpenter. In the north transept is the old chair of St. Kieran, made of carved stone, [2] is still used as Chair of the enthronement of the bishops of Cashel and Ossory.

There are continental carvings on the choir stalls and hammerbeam roof.The cathedral has many glass windows, including the great east window, which is a replica of the 13th century original.

On the east side of the south transept is the consistory court, built by Bishop Pococke, the chapter house north of it. From the north transept a dark passage leads to St Mary’s chapel, where services in St Canice parish once took place, and later parish church next to it is the tomb of Bishop Gafney (died 1576). [2] Despite some 19th century restoration has cathedral carefully preserved in its original style and form.

Near the cathedral eastern end is the Bishop’s Palace. [2]


St. Canice library

Founded in 1693 by Bishop Thomas Otway, it contains many theological documents and artifacts in particular in connection with Bishop Otway and Bishop Edward Maurice from the 17th and 18th centuries. 2013 Maurice Otway collection was loaned to Maynooth College for restoration and conservation; previously some documents have been moved to the Church of Ireland Representative Body house in Dublin. [9]

Funerals and memorial

  • William de Karlell (died 1383), Chief Baron of the Irish Exchequer, and his brother John (died 1393), chancellor of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin
  • James Butler, 2nd Earl av Ormond (1331-1382)
  • Piers Butler, 8th earlen av Ormond (c.1467-1539)
  • Thomas Butler, 10th Earl av Ormond (1531-1614)
  • Walter Butler, 11 earlen av Ormond (1559-1632 / 3)
  • David Rothe (1573-1650), Roman Catholic Bishop of Ossory – a cenotaph to his memory, but his remains were buried in St. Mary’s Church
  • Griffith Williams (1589? -1672), Bishop of Ossory
  • Hugh Hamilton (1729-1805), Bishop of Ossory

See also

  • Anglicanism portal
  • List of abbeys and priories in County Kilkenny.
  • Bishop of Cashel and Ossory
  • Dean Kilkenny


  1. Jump up ^ According to St. Canice Cathedral tour brochures, published by Church.
  2. ^ Hoppa upp till:a b c d e f g h Cathedral of St Canice , utdrag ur en topografisk Dictionary of Ireland (1837)
  3. Jump up ^ Graves 1857, p. 25
  4. ^ Jump up to: ab Graves 1857, p. 23
  5. Jump up ^ Masters, ed., Annals of the Four Masters Vol. II, p. 923, from Irish
  6. Jump up ^ day, JGF, cathedrals Church of Ireland (Reading Books, 2007, ISBN 1-4067-5730-6), p. 15
  7. Hoppa upp^ Grattan Flood, WH, A History of Irish Music (Dublin: 1906), pp 89-90 (. Extrakt )
  8. Jump up ^ Lynas, Norman (1997). Kirwan, John, ed. “The restoration of St Canice’s Cathedral 1844-1867 under Dean Vignoles”. Kilkenny: Studies in honor of Margaret M. Phelan: 183-191.
  9. Jump up ^ historic cathedral Books moved to Maynooth News –