The Southeast Sights

St. Canice's Cathedral

  • Dean St. Map It
  • Kilkenny City
  • Religious Building/Site/Shrine
  • Fodor's Choice

Published 08/11/2015

Fodor's Review

In spite of Cromwell's defacements, this is still one of the finest cathedrals in Ireland and the country's second-largest medieval church, after St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin. Behind the massive walls of this 13th-century structure (restored in 1866) is an exuberant Gothic interior, given a somber grandeur by the extensive use of a locally quarried black marble. Many of the memorials and tombstone effigies represent distinguished descendants of the Normans, some depicted in full suits of armor. Look for a female effigy in the south aisle wearing the old Irish, or Kinsale, cloak; a 12th-century black-marble font at the southwest end of the nave; and St. Ciaran's Chair in the north transept, also made of black marble, with 13th-century sculptures on the arms.

In recent years, St. Canice's has achieved notoriety as the resting place of President Obama's great-great-great uncle, the Bishop of Ossory. The biggest attraction on the grounds is the 102-foot-high round tower,

which was built in 847 by King O'Carroll of Ossory; if you have the energy, climb the tower's 167 steps for the tremendous 360-degree view from the top, as well as for the thrill of mounting 102 steps on makeshift wooden stairs. Next door is St. Canice's Library, containing some 3,000 16th- and 17th-century volumes.

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Sight Information


Dean St., Kilkenny City, Co. Kilkenny, Ireland

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Sight Details:

  • Cathedral €4, tower €3, both €6
  • Cathedral June–Aug., Mon.–Sat. 9–6, Sun. 1–6; Apr., May, and Sept., Mon.–Sat. 10–1 and 2–5, Sun. 2–5; Oct.–Mar., Mon.–Sat. 10–1 and 2–4, Sun. 2–4. Tower access depends on weather

Published 08/11/2015


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