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St. Canice’s Cathedral and Round Tower

 Built in the 13th century, Saint Canice's Cathedral in Kilkenny is second only to Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin in consecutive years of worship. The structure has endured vandalism and the ravages of time to remain standing as one of the most solemn yet impressive churches in the country as well.


  • The first church built on this site was erected in the 6th century by St. Canice, who established a monastic settlement here.
  • It was this first church that gave the city its name. The Gaelic origin of Kilkenny -- Cill Channigh -- literally means the Church of Canice.
  • In the mid 13th century, it was Bishop O'Deleaney's wish that a cathedral be built on the site of the old monastic settlement of Saint Canices, since Kilkenny had come into his remit
  • The bishop died before the construction was completed


  • The exterior is Early English style, and plenty of renovation was done in 1866.
  • The interior is Gothic, and appears sombre but striking due to the use of black marble, taken from nearby quarries. Medieval statuary is plentiful, both on tombstones and as memorials.
  • Some of the figures distinguish themselves by appearing in full suits of armour.
  • Particularly striking and noteworthy is a female figure dressed in a Kinsale cloak.

Round Tower

Alongside the cathedral sits Kilkenny's oldest standing structure, the Round Tower. Standing 102 feet high and mountable by wooden stairs, the Round Tower at St. Canice's is one of only two Irish Round Towers that people can climb. The other is Kildare Round Tower. The view at the top of the tower offers the best vistas over Kilkenny city. Built in 847 by King O’Carroll of Ossory. was originally part of the monastic community at the root of the city, and it is one of the few buildings that still survive.

The Close

On the grounds of the Cathedral, there are some other sites worth visiting, including:

  • A 300 year old library, housing a collection of antiquarian volumes dating back to the 16th and 17th century
  • The organist's cottage - a charming 17th century period cottage
  • The deanery - an 18th century building
  • The sexton's house - a section of which dates from the 6th century
  • The graveyard - a small cemetery with hand-cut headstones dating back to the 1600s

Because of its quaint setting, the close has been used as a location for films as weddings.

Official Site

St. Canice's Cathedral


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