Major improvements to visitor experience make St Canice's Cathedral, Kilkenny worth another look

Ireland Ancient East Interpretation works completed at St. Canice's Cathedral Kilkenny with enhanced visitor experience

Major improvements to visitor experience make St Canice's Cathedral, Kilkenny worth another look
Sean Keane

St Canice’s Cathedral, one of the city's most important historical, architectural, archaoelogical and religious sites has completed extensive improvement to enhance visitor experience. The result was unveiled on Friday.

The work was made possible by an €80,000 grant from Failte Ireland as part of the Ireland’s Ancient East initiative.

Ireland’s Ancient East is Fáilte Ireland’s latest tourism initiative and seeks to build on the wealth of historical and cultural assets in the east and south of Ireland.

St Canice's Cathedral and Round Tower are an essential part of the structural heritage of our vibrant medieval city.

The ecclesiastical site is the founding site of Kilkenny city. The Cathedral authorities are delighted with the completion of the interpretation elements which enhance the experience of visiting a Cathedral even further.

Mirador Media designed a non-intrusive visitor flow with the aid of custom made barriers constructed from damaged pews.

Reconditioned timber was used to frame frosted vinyl and Perspex, designed to mimic the cathedral’s stained glass.

Specially designed books interpreting key elements of the cathedral were fixed to lecterns also made from reconditioned pews.

Stand-alone display panels were designed for the interpretation area along with children's activities. This new interpretation builds on elements designed and built by Mirador at St. Canice's previously.

In the round tower adjacent to the cathedral Mirador Media produced three audio commentaries/soundscapes which educate and guide visitors up the 30 metre tower and through its history.

Part of the brief was to re-design the retail area and to provide a modular seating and staging system to support the cathedral's programme of events.

For the retail area Mirador designed units and counters inspired by the book stalls of the Seine in Paris. This bespoke concept furniture allows all goods to be presented in an attractive manner in units that are in keeping with the church's furnishings

Any visitor to Kilkenny city or student should start their visit at the site where the origins of the city began at St Canice’s Cathedral and Round Tower.

You can explore the cathedral and Round Tower and witness the raw materials used by the stonemasons in the 12th Century. The Round Tower is the oldest standing structure in the city, which predates the Anglo Norman Conquest in Kilkenny.

Build your own Cathedral using the building blocks supplied and enjoy hours of fun on your own or in company. Sense a site that has been used for worship since 600 a.d. Hear and see the bell ringers of the Cathedral as you look through the keyhole of the bell tower door. Read the very interesting stories associated with the Cathedral and city such as Saints, Anchorites, Knights and Bishop Ledrede and the Dame Alice Kytler’s trial. The model of the city housed in the new interpretative area of the Cathedral provides a wonderful insight to the medieval city. The grant also aided a new welcome area, seating, stage and lighting equipment for events and an interactive experience in the Round Tower.

Speaking about the launch Dean Katharine Poulton of the cathedral said visitors can learn more about the surroundings from the beautiful interpretative panels and books. “And for young and young at heart there are some hands-on activities. We are now uniquely placed to tell the story of St Canice’s Cathedral and Round Tower from its inception to the present day,” she said.

In addition to the interpretative material, the provision of staging and flexible seating makes the Cathedral a space for telling the story in word and music, for inviting people in who might not usually come and for sensitive use of the space by other users.”

Jenny DeSaulles, Head of Ireland’s Ancient East commented

“Fáilte Ireland is delighted to support the further development of St Canice’s Cathedral as a visitor experience. This attraction will not only significantly benefit tourism in Kilkenny but it is also a perfect fit for Ireland’s Ancient East – our latest initiative which is firmly rooted in our past and our stories”.

“By using effective interpretative techniques the sacred story of St Canice’s is brought to life for the visitor while maintaining the serenity of this Sacred site. The access and interpretation to the Round Tower creates a unique experience of climbing a round tower in Ireland, enhancing both Kilkenny and Ireland’s Ancient East”