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CATHEDRAL of ST. CANICE

The "Cathedral of St. Canice", situated on a gentle eminence at the western extremity of Kilkenny city, is a spacious and venerable cruciform structure, in the early English style of architecture, with a low massy central tower supported on clustered columns of black marble, and lofty pointed arches, affording entrances from the nave into the choir and transepts. The exterior walls, with the exception of only the gables, are embattled, and at the west end the pinnacles form two small spires. The whole length of the building is 226 feet, and the breadth along the transepts 123 feet. The interior is lofty and of chaste and elegant design; the nave is separated from the aisles by an elegant range of five clustered columns of black marble on each side, with lofty and gracefully moulded arches, and lighted by a large west window of elegant design, and a range of five clerestory windows; the aisles are lighted by four windows on each side; the choir, of similar character, has a beautifully groined ceiling, embellished with delicate tracery and numerous modilions, and a central group of cherubs, festoons, and fiolage of exquisite richness. At the end of the south transept, on the eastern side, is the consistory court, buily by Bishop Pococke, and to the north of it is the chapter-house. On the eastern side of the north transept is a door leading through a dark passage into the chapel of St. Mary, where the parochial vicar of St. Canice formerly officiated; and adjacent to it, on the same side, is the present parish church, containing the tomb of Bishop Gafney, who died in 1576. In various parts of the cathedral are several ancient monuments, of which the most remarkable is that of Bishop David, near the consistorial court, now much defaced; eight of the bishops of Ossory and several of the noble proprietors of the castle are interred here; and in the transept is a stone seat, called the Chair of St. Kieran. Within a short distance from the south transept are the remains of an ancient round tower, 108 feet high and 47 feet in circumference at the base, and crowned at its summit with a low battlement. The cemetery is finely planted, and is approached from the town by a flight of marble steps. Near the east end of the cathedral is the episcopal palace, a commodious and handsome residence; and on the south-eastern side is the deanery, a good building. At the north-western end of the churchyard is the diocesan library, founded in 1692 by Bishop Otway; it was enlarged in 1756, by Bishop Maurice, who contributed largely to the collection, which now contains 3000 volumes.
[From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland (1837)]


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parish of St. Canice. Edited by Dennis Walsh, last updated 21 Apr 1999

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