Yes, that’s CANICE, not cannabis, and by high, I mean literally high, not figuratively. Now that that’s cleared up, let’s take a tour of another sight in Kilkenny, Ireland.

The Cleverly Named St. Canice’s Cathedral

St. Canice might almost sound like it’s named for a woman, but the saint in question is a fellow whose Irish name was Cainnech. Mucking through the trickery of Gaelic pronunciation that sort of comes out to the English equivalent of Kenneth. But old Cainnech must have been a casual kind of guy who preferred “Kenny”. Match that up with “cill” (pronounce “kill”) which means “church” and you have Kilkenny…the Church of Kenny. Yeah, I know, St Canice’s Cathedral sounds way more official and much less reminiscent of Footloose or Top Gun.

Footloose, footloose, kick off your Sunday shoes, ooh wee, Marie…


Stepping Into St Canice’s Cathedral

As with many European churches, there’s been a whole lotta worshipping going on at the location of St Canice’s since the 6th century. The current building dates from the 13th century and is full of all those Gothic stereotypes such as big columns, stained glass, and pointy arches to keep everything from falling in on itself.

kilkenny, st canice cathedral, ireland

Until of course you get a witch involved.

Dame Kytler Brings Down the House

Well, actually it might have been her maid, but we’ll get to that. Alice Kytler was a clever and intelligent woman, and may or may not have been a bit of a femme fatale. She liked her men wealthy, but she didn’t have to like them for very long because her husbands seemed to have nasty habit of dying. When Husband Number Four was marching his way ever closer to the graveyard, the Bishop Ledrede decided to take his woman-hating frustrations out on her.

Nothing like a good witch burning to rouse your thirst!

He wasn’t alone in his scheme to prove Alice a witch. Alice’s own son gave testimony of his mom chanting curses at him (well, yeah, you’re a jerk of a son, what do you expect?). With that good ol’ medieval logic, Alice and her maid were convicted of being witches and sentenced to die.

Alice was self-serving enough to skedaddle off to England, but the poor maid was burnt at the stake (Ireland’s first witch burning…mark it on your calendar!). As penance for being a jerk, William was to repair the cathedral roof (probably using his mom’s money because that’s the kind of guy he was). But the maid got her revenge and this roof collapsed soon after it was complete.

Anyway, back to the cathedral

Inside St. Canice’s

There’s plenty to see inside the cathedral such as flying cows in the chorister….

…some lovely stained glass…

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…and as I was wandering I noticed something that looked very familiar….an anchorite’s door.

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See those little doors off to the left? A woman would be locked in there to “honor” god by never seeing another human being and being handed her food through a tiny slot (I do not want to think about the disposal of the end products of those meals). The anchorite’s door was especially interesting since I’d just re-read (Christopher Moore’s novel Fool, in which an anchoress has a very important (and acrobatic) role to play. And of course it reminded me of this post on Daze & Weekes all about the wild life of another anchorite.

Of course, you don’t want to get too distracted by books and blog posts and anchoress’s bowel movements when you’re meant to be keeping a monster out of trouble. When I turned around Finn was gone and I was really hoping he hadn’t found a way into the anchorite’s little hutch…although locking him away would keep him out of trouble.

Instead, I found him trying to relive his role as Bellerophon on his new steed “Pega-Cow”.

Once I told him the possible penalties for his pagan behavior in an Anglican church, he hurried down and came across a guy taking a nap. I didn’t have the heart to tell him the nap was of the permanent variety.

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This is (was) James Butler, yes, the same Butler family who kicked back at Kilkenny Castle. He’s lounging next to this cozy couple, Piers Butler and Margaret FitzGerald…

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…and their little dog too!

kilkenny, st canice cathedral, ireland


Piers and Margaret’s was an arranged marriage, but it seems to have worked out. I mean look at that grin on her face despite the very Malificent headwear and the pesky monster interrupting her nap.

The Real Reason We Went to St Canice’s: The Tower

As you may have noticed above, there’s a round tower next to the cathedral. It dates to around the 8th century and stands 30 meters high. It’s also one of only two or three round towers you can still climb in Ireland. Did we climb it? Yep. Although Finn was very scared and hid in my backpack the whole time.

kilkenny, st canice cathedral, ireland, round tower

As you can see, the door to go in is tiny…and so is the interior. The base is only 15 feet in diameter, but gets narrower and narrower as you go up. And let me tell you, when you get to the top…it’s a long way down!

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But from the top you get a 360-degree view of Kilkenny….

Finn was having none of it, especially as it was crazy windy at the top and he’d left his flying cow back in the cathedral. However, once we made our way down and back inside, he found a Beastie-sized tower he was far more comfortable with…

kilkenny, st canice cathedral, ireland

Thanks for popping by every one and have a great weekend. Finn will be back next week with a random sampling of Kilkenny sights!!


22 thoughts on “Getting High in Kilkenny: St Canice’s Cathedral

  1. Hahaha! I do like that picture of BelleroFinn with his new winged steed! And well done for climbing up that tower… I definitely wouldn’t have looked back down the stairs once I was at the top! 😆


    1. The winged cow really is more appropriate for him! As for the climb, I refused to chicken out and the guy working in the tower gave me advice on how to NOT tumble my way back down the ladder (it’s not the heights I’m afraid of, it’s the fall down if I miss a step).

      However, he failed to tell me that at the top I had to squeeze through a narrow opening to get to the viewing platform. Well, I got stuck trying to squeeze through. Mild moment of panic as the two other people at the top watched my idiocy until my brain cells kicked in and I realized it was my backpack (with Finn trembling in terror inside) catching on the edge of the opening. In my defense, I was still jet lagged.


      1. Eeeeeek! Never a dull moment on your travels! At least it was only your backpack that got stuck, although Finn probably sees things quite differently. Maybe he should have got his new bovine friend to fly him up?


      2. I don’t know, maybe they’re running a YouTube channel: Hilarious Moments at St Canice’s. “This week we watch yet another American get her butt trapped in the tower.”


  2. I love this post!!! So much good stuff–a namesake witch AND anchoress?!?! An awesome flying cow and a hilarious dead couple?! But that tower. OMG. Very little chance I would have made it to the top, but if I had, a helicopter would have had to pick me up and take me back down! I got sickening anxiety just looking at that picture. Hurllllllllll!!!! Finn’s scale it much more my style!


    1. I do love the look on old Margaret’s face, like she totally got away with something before she died. As for the flying cow, I’m still trying to figure out how that made its way into an Anglican church.

      I have chickened out from climbing many towers (usually about one-third of the way up), but have been trying to be braver about hauling my butt up these towers since Mr Husband loves them. I got a huge boost to my courage after conquering the Monument the last time we were in London – I figured all I had to do was force myself up those stairs (or ladder, in this case). Funny thing was, once we got to the VERY WINDY (and very not-caged-in top) it was Mr Husband who was nervously asking if I was ready to go. Hells no, I’m taking in the view!

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      1. Blaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh terrifying! The wind is always the scariest aspect if I ever actually make it to the top of anything… I feel ya, Mr Husband! Luckily B is also afraid of heights so we’re usually on the same page about not attempting the climb. He hadn’t experienced the depth of my phobia though until we tried to climb the clock tower in Bruges. I started shaking and crying and hyperventilating halfway up and had to (very slowly and embarrassingly) retreat. I think my cowardice emboldened him because he carried on and made it to the top without me! That tower is child’s play compared to that terrifying ladder you have pictured!!!!!!!

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      2. OMG! Do you mean the Belfry? I tried to be brave and told myself I could do it, but I freaked out about a third of the way up and had to tremble my way back down – AFTER I literally couldn’t move for about two minutes. I’m okay as long as I have something to hold onto (Mr husband doesn’t count…although maybe Aidan Turner…haha!!) and once the handrail thingie ran out, so did my courage. So, no, the tower ladder was WAY better than that Belgian horror fest.

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      3. Right?!?!! I remember there was a rope to hold onto… but my body did not feel it was adequate, apparently. It’s such an embarrassing phobia! Yet grounded in common sense! Plus, I feel that being blown away by the wind is a legit concern! Damn you, life threatening scenic views!

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  3. Great snapshots! I liked the anchorite’s door, and all that stained glass. The picture of the narrow staircase down made my palms a bit sweaty, but what a view. 🙂 Nice to see Finn with his own Beastie-sized tower!

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    1. I would have completely missed the anchorite door if not for the Daze & Weekes post. As for the look down those stairs…just wait until we get to the cliffs of the Aran Islands! Thanks for popping by and for commenting! Always love to hear from people 😃😃😃

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