Located in Kilkenny, St. Canice Cathedral, which dates from the 13th century, stands on an ancient site which has been used for Christian worship since the 6th century and is the second longest cathedral in Ireland. It is accompanied by is a well-preserved 9th century “Celtic Christian” round tower and is one of two such towers that can be climbed to the top.
Following the English Reformation, the reformed church was established by a decree of the Irish Parliament to become a state church in the Kingdom of Ireland as the Church of Ireland, taking possession of most church property and a great repository of religious architecture, although some of which was later destroyed.
However, a substantial majority of the population remained faithful to the Latin liturgy of Roman Catholicism, despite political and economic advantages afforded to members of the state church. As a result of the takeover, Roman Catholics were obligated to worship elsewhere and St. Mary’s Catherdral in Kilkenny was later built by the Roman Catholic Diocese.
The cathedral contains some 16th century monuments. The architectural style of the cathedral is Early Gothic and is built of limestone. It is richly endowed with many stained glass windows, including the East window which is a replica of the original 13th-century window. The cathedral contains some of the finest 16th century monuments in Ireland.