St. Canice's Cathedral & Round Tower

The Cathedral Church of St Canice,
The Close, Coach Rd,
Kilkenny City, Ireland.

Phone : +353 (0)56 7764971

Fax: +353 (0)56 7723646

Email : info@stcanicescathedral.com

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Round Tower



OCTOBER TO MARCH

OPEN FROM 10AM TO 12.30PM LAST CLIMB-
AND FROM 2PM TO 3.30PM LAST CLIMB. MONDAY TO SATURDAY

2PM TO 3.30PM LAST CLIMB SUNDAY.

BEST TIME IS 10AM AND 2PM. THE ROUND TOWER IS WEATHER AND STAFF PERMITTING DURING THESE MONTHS. WE WOULD ADVISE TO RING IN ADVANCE IF IN DOUBT 056 7764971.



In the summer season, please note that the tower is very busy from11am to 4pm . Best time to climb is from 9am to 11am. Please note closed Sundays mornings due to worship in the Cathedral.

Climbing the tower

One of the only two round towers in the country that people may climb, the round tower at St Canice’s Cathedral provides a magnificent view of Kilkenny and the surrounding area on a clear day. The structure is 30m (100ft) high, tapering from 4.5 to 3.3m (15 to 11ft) in diameter. When the tower was originally built it would have had a conical top, adding a further 5m (18ft) to its height. The present day lack of this conical top allows for access to a safe viewing platform at the tower’s summit, which may be reached via a series of internal ladders comprising seven floors and 121 steps in total. Each year, many local archaeologists, architects and town planners – as well as thousands of visitors – climb the round tower not only to climb up through a unique heritage, but to view a beautiful city and stunning landscape.

The History

round_tower_steps__round_tower_page.jpgRound towers - a particularly Irish feature - were built at major religious sites as places of refuge for body and treasure, during the times of the Viking raids from the end of the 8th century. St Canice’s round tower offers a breathtaking 360 degree view of the surrounding countryside from its summit - hardly surprising since that was the other reason they were built. The presence of the round tower here is the clearest sign of the antiquity of St Canice’s as an important religious site. There is a reference that suggests a mid-9th century date for it, making it the oldest standing structure in the City. It carries the same protected status as the Cathedral, and similarly, is of national importance. Considering that it was built over fairly fresh burials and that the foundations are remarkably shallow, it is not so much the 0.7m (2ft) off-plumb that is remarkable, but the fact that it has remained standing at all!


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Excavation

In 1846 – 1847, the base of the tower underwent excavation, confirming that the foundations are only 0.6m deep. In addition, a pavement was discovered; and underneath that a number of skeletons were also found – that of two adults and two children. The skeletons had been interred in a traditional Christian manner: With their feet to the East and their heads facing West. A variety of different animal remains was found in proximity also.

To find out more information on the Round Tower, contact St. Canice's Cathedral & Round Tower