St Canice's Cathedral, Kilkenny
Photo by William Murphy  –  Link

St Canice's Cathedral

Ireland > Kilkenny

St Canice's Cathedral, or Kilkenny Cathedral as it's also known, is a 13th century-cathedral located in the heart of Kilkenny. Forming one end of the city's famous Medieval Mile (a mile long stretch of narrow streets and Medieval architecture), the cathedral is a key landmark in this historic city, boasting beautiful stained glass windows, impressive marble floors, and fascinating tombstones.

The cathedral is also accompanied by an Irish round tower, a tall, circular building thought to be the oldest standing structure in Kilkenny today. This is one of the few round towers in Ireland that you can climb up, so definitely head here to enjoy the incredible views and historical treasures of Kilkenny all at once.

Admission to the cathedral is included in the Medieval Mile Pass, an all-in-one ticket to some of the top attractions along the Medieval Mile, which also covers the round tower. Alternatively, you can purchase tickets for just the Cathedral or tower, or combined tickets for both.

History of St Canice's Cathedral and round tower

Although the cathedral standing today was constructed in the 13th century, the building has actually been an important place of worship since around the 6th century when it was a Celtic Christian monastery said to have been founded by St Canice. In fact, the name Kilkenny is the anglicised version of the Irish Cill Chainnigh, meaning 'Church of Canice', a pretty clear indication of this cathedral's significance to the city.

The cathedral has been replaced three times in its history, developing from an original wooden building to a Romanesque-style stone church, before finally becoming the Medieval cathedral that still stands today. The round tower, on the other hand, is thought to have been built just once in the 9th century, its existence today exhibiting this site's enduring history.

Things to look out for

One of the most famous things to look out for as you wander round St Canice's Cathedral is St Kieran's Chair, an ancient stone seat set into the wall. The seat is thought to be at least as old as the cathedral itself, so it's one of the key original components to keep an eye out for.

Another thing to admire is the polished grave slabs set into the walls and floor around the cathedral. One notable tombstone commemorates Jose de Kettler, thought to be the father of Alice Kyteler, who was the first recorded person accused of witchcraft in Ireland (we'll leave it up to you to discover the rest of Alice's story as you explore... it's rather scandalous!).

Be sure to also check out the impressive stained glass windows and unique marble floors in the cathedral. The windows are simple but effective, with vibrant colours and detailed scenes making them come alive when the sun shines through. The floors are a little more complex, using tiles in four colours to represent the four provinces of Ireland, reminding you of the cathedral's roots once again.

Helpful tips

  • Children under 12 aren't permitted to climb the tower, so bear this in mind when visiting with children.
  • Although the tower is generally open whenever the cathedral is, opening times are often dependent on weather conditions and the staff's availability. If climbing the tower is absolutely unmissable for you it's advisable to ring ahead to double check it's open that day.
  • There is no parking available at the cathedral, so the closest places to park are Dean Street or in one of the city centre car parks. If you're hoping to visit the cathedral and climb the tower it's advisable to arrive an hour before closing, so make sure you leave enough time to walk from your car to the site.
Opening Times

October 1st to March 31st

  • Monday to Saturday: 10:00 AM to 04:00 PM
  • Sunday: 02:00 PM to 05:00 PM

April 1st to May 31st

  • Monday to Saturday: 10:00 AM to 05:00 PM
  • Sunday: 02:00 PM to 05:00 PM

June 1st to August 31st

  • Monday to Saturday: 09:00 AM to 06:00 PM
  • Sunday: 01:00 PM to 06:00 PM

September 1st to September 30th

  • Monday to Saturday: 10:00 AM to 05:00 PM
  • Sunday: 02:00 PM to 05:00 PM
Price Information

Cathedral and Round Tower combined ticket

  • Adult : 7.00 EUR
  • Children : 6.50 EUR
  • Senior Citizen : 6.50 EUR

Cathedral only

  • Adult : 4.50 EUR
  • Children : 3.50 EUR
  • Senior Citizen : 3.50 EUR

Round Tower only

  • General : 4.00 EUR
Address

Church Lane

Kilkenny

County Kilkenny

Ireland R95 V63H