The Cathedral ExteriorThe building looks very much now as it would when first built. The obvious difference would be the central tower. After it collapsed in the 14th century it was never restored to its original height out of fear that it would go the same way again, so we are left with a rather inelegant stump. The lower battlements are 19th century and some believe that the higher ones were a medieval addition.
A curiosity is the door to the North transept. On the outside this has a circular inner arch within a pointed outer one. The rounded arch is the characteristic of the earlier Romanesque style of Cormac's chapel at Cashel, while the pointed arch defines the later Gothic style in which the cathedral is built. This might suggest that the inner part of the doorway is a relic from the earlier stone church, of which other traces have been found nearby. However on close examination it is clear that both arches were of the one construction – maybe the round one was just a wistful reminder of the vanished style of the builder's youth.
Another curiosity is a detail at the great West door. Between the doorway and the windows above, there are three small openings onto a platform inside within the thickness of the wall. No totally convincing explanation has been given for its purpose. A similar detail appears in Wells cathedral, where choristers for the bishop’s ceremonial entry evidently used it at Easter. However here it is too small to be used that way. It is possible that the bishop wanted to recreate the feature, but between client and builder, it somehow went adrift.
To find out more information on The Cathedral Exterior, contact St. Canice's Cathedral & Round Tower