Cathedral holds key to secret of Obama's Irish relatives
YOU could have been reading a chapter of Dan Brown's best-selling novel The DaVinci Code. Two people painstakingly deciphering the Latin words on hundreds of tombs inside one of the oldest places of worship on these islands.
Using a centuries-old map to identify a vault hidden under the floor of the 13th Century gothic building with tower attached, they solved a mystery that had surrounded the Irish ancestors of US president Barack Obama. It's the stuff of dreams, but it has become a reality in Kilkenny, Ireland's medieval city.
And so it was to St Can-ice's Cathedral that Kil-kenny film maker and writer Gabriel Murray came to find Obama's Lost Tomb.
And he was successful in locating it. Bishop John Kearney's resting place is No 19 on the map of over 270 tombs located inside the building that has played such a central role in the life of Kilkenny.
The direct link to Obama is just one of the many secrets held by the Cathedral. Who knows what else is contained within its walls.
"I have to admit it was very exciting and it was great to finally prove conclusively that Barack Obama's sixth generation grand uncle was the Bishop of Ossory and a former provost of Trinity College who died in Kilkenny city at the Bishop's Palace in 1813. It is now the headquarters of the Heritage Council," Mr Murray said.
"The Palace is the site of the only building in existence that is directly linked to Bishop John Kearney and so to Obama," Mr Murray added.
He was led to St Canice's after finding documentation in the ancient archive dep-artment at Trinity College, Dublin, where he learned that Bishop Kearney was buried in a tomb within St Canice's Cathedral. Problem was, no one knew anything about it. "To be honest, I still can't believe that I managed to find it," Mr Murray admitted.
Mr Murray and Cathedral assistant Frances Moore spent hours looking for the tomb before finally locating it just 20 yards from the main entrance.
Mr Murray is making a documentary on Obama's Irish roots and, as a Kilkenny man, was fascinated when it appeared that he had such strong links with the city.
His documentary, Obama's Irish Roots, follows the Kearney family's 5,000-mile route from Kilkenny to Kansas in 1847 during the famine era. The documentary features interviews with Dean Norman Lynas, (Dean of St Canice's Cathedral; Canon Stephen Neill, Rector Temple Harry Church, Co Offaly and the Irish relatives of Obama's both in Ireland and America.
Re-enactments of the life of Obama's great grandfather and grandmother are played by actors Fergus Kealy and Sharon O'Donnell.
Importance of the Cathedral
The importance of the Cathedral and round tower cannot be over-estimated and are an essential part of the structural heritage in the vibrant medieval city of Kilkenny. This ecclesiastical site was founded in the 6th Century and named after St Canice. Kilkenny (Cill Channigh) is the Gaelic for the Church of Canice, the church that originally stood on the site in the 6th Century.
Combining the early Christian settlement, the Round Tower, the Anglo Norman Cathedral and its rich cultural ecclesiastical heritage, makes St Canice's Cathedral and its environs a must to visit for every person in Kilkenny and for visitors.
Worship has taken place at this site for over 800 years. The Cathedral has wonderful stained glass that includes two windows from the Harry Clarke Studio, Dublin. Local stone masters, The O'Tooneys, carved some of the tombstones- many of which are unique to the Cathedral and Kilkenny.
The See Chair of the Bishop of Ossory, dating back to 1120, can be seen inside the Cathedral. The Cathedral houses Ireland's Memorial Records of the names of Irishmen who fell in the Great European War 1914-1918. The seven volumes were complied by the committee of the Irish National War memorial with eight variants of decorative border by Harry Clarke.
The Round Tower is the oldest standing structure in Kilkenny City. Anyone who wants to can enjoy climbing the Round Tower, capturing great views of the city. St Canice's Round Tower is one of only two round towers that people can climb in Ireland.
At St Canice's Cathedral, worship takes pre-eminence over all other activities. However, this jewel of gothic architecture is also used for national concerts and events – for example the Kilkenny Arts Festival held every August – which are in keeping with the environs of the Cathedral. Visit Cathedral Close and you will witness a spiritual, cultural, architectural and archaeological wonder.
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