A Cathedral and a ‘Witch’

St Canice’s Cathedral in Kilkenny is full of wonders. Here’s a smattering of them for you.

It has a round tower (9th century) which can be climbed to the top by the public -and there were some folk wildly waving from it when we got there on our recent visit to the city of the Cats.

The altar floor is covered in marble of four colours, one from each province in Ireland. Can you match colour – black, red, green, grey- to origin? See bottom of post for answer.


The cathedral also has links to the infamous Alice Kytler, condemned as a witch by Bishop Ledrede in the 14th century. I was fascinated by Alice when I was a kid and her house was pointed out to me on one of our family trips.

Was she a ‘witch’, or just an educated and attractive woman who was unfortunate enough to lose not one, but four (wealthy) husbands? Whatever the truth is, Ledrede sentenced her to be burnt at the stake for the crime of witchcraft but the bold Dame Alice vanished, helped to escape by several influential men of the City. Her servant Petronella wasn’t so lucky and Ledrede had her burnt at the stake in 1324, setting the ‘trend’ for burning as a suitable way to dispatch a ‘witch’.

And then there are the mediaeval tombs. I have a really strong memory of seeing them as a child too. Click on any photo for a larger image and some info.

The cathedral is set up (when not in use for services) for visitors, with interesting, clear info sheets and some nice videos, including one of the bells being rung, which you peer at through the keyhole!


Cill Channaigh (Irish for Kilkenny) means the church of Canice. Cathedral website http://www.stcanicescathedral.ie/index.html

Know your marbles? Green- Connaught, Connemara marble; black – Leinster, Kilkenny marble; grey – Munster, Cork marble; red – Ulster, Tyrone marble

On Friday it’s time to say good winter to Tommy the hedgehog…

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