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St Canice, Kilkenny

(52°39′11″N, 7°14′49″W)
S 51 56
pre-1974 traditional (Republic of Ireland) Kilkenny
now Kilkenny
  • Tessa Garton

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A 13thc. cathedral built on the site of an earlier church which was burned in 1085 and in 1114. It contains a font and some loose sculpture from the Romanesque church, and some Romanesque stones reused in the walls of the 13thc. church. A round tower is located to the south of the cathedral.


The present cathedral stands on the site of the original monastic settlement founded by St Canice in the 6thc. The street pattern around the cathedral suggests the original presence of a large, circular enclosure around the monastery (Bradley,1990, 65), but the number and form of church buildings is not known.


Exterior Features

Exterior Decoration




Loose Sculpture


The loose fragments indicate the existence of a stone church with Romanesque sculpture in the 12thc. The voussoir from an arch with interlaced beasts can be compared to fragments at Jerpoint and the Irish Urnes style shows that this sculpture included traditional Irish forms, also evidenced in the interlace on the multi-scallop capital. The design of the multiscallop capital with a broad frieze in the shield area is similar to the capitals of the E bay of the nave at Jerpoint. The decoration of the voussoirs with round bosses along a chamfer is similar to that on the imposts of the W doorway of the church at Ullard (Kilkenny).


P. Harbison, 'Carved Stones from the 12th century Predecessor of St Canice's Cathedral', Old Kilkenny Review, 5/1, 1974, 26-9.

H. K. J. Pike, Medieval Fonts of Ireland, Greystones, 1989, 13.

J. Graves and J. Prim, The History, Architecture and Antiquities of the Cathedral Church of St. Canice, Kilkenny, Dublin,1857, 25-6.