New research reveals
location of original St Canice's Cathedral
Experts have uncovered the position of the original St Canice's
Cathedral which existed until the Normans pulled it down
almost 800 years ago to make way for the present building.
New research to be published in the next few weeks shows
the old St Canice's was built on the east side of the
round tower closest to the River Nore. The building appears
to have been substantial and may have been similar to the
famous Romanesque churches at Cashel and Ardmore.
The Normans demolished the original church in the late 12th
century to cow local residents. The magnificent cathedral
that stands to this day was then constructed to impress
on locals the extent of Norman power.
The original cathedral and palace were lost from memory
and their whereabouts was a mystery for almost 800 years.
But now, through the use of modern technology, they have
been rediscovered in a Heritage Council-funded project carried
out by the Kilkenny Archaeological Society. The technique
used was called geophysical survey', which employs
sophisticated instruments to produce an X-ray like image
of what lies beneath the ground. It is particularly adept
at finding the remains of long-buried buildings. At St Canice's,
both the graveyard and interior of the cathedral were investigated
by the geophysics team of M. Gowan & Co. Ltd. This survey
revealed that the previous cathedral was positioned on the
East side of the round tower.
Sections of an old structure discovered during the nineteenth
century under the chancel can now most probably be identified
with he palace of the kings of Ossory. This was also quite
a substantial stone edifice and its position beside the
Cathedral was undoubtedly hugely symbolic and again strikingly
similar to the Rock of Cashel. Was St Canice's to Ossory
what the Rock of Cashel was to Munster.
There were other interesting discoveries also: the lost
burial vault of the Ormonde Butler of Kilkenny Castle was
revealed beneath the high altar and burials apparently associated
with the former cathedral were exposed around the round
Courtesy of the Kilkenny People