Thursday, 16 November 2017

Kilkenny Palace

The See of OSSORY, which, like that of Meath, takes its name from a district, was originally established at Saiger, about 402 AD, by St Kieran, after his return from Rome, where he had remained 20 years in the study of the Christian faith, and had been consecrated a bishop.

He was accompanied on his return by five other bishops, who also founded sees in other parts of Ireland, and after presiding over this see for many years is supposed to have died in Cornwall.

Of his successors, who were called Episcopi Saigerenses, but very imperfect accounts are preserved.

Carthage, his disciple and immediate successor, died about the year 540, from which period till the removal of the see from Saiger to Aghaboe, about the year 1052, there appears to have been, with some few intervals, a regular succession of prelates.

The monastery of Aghaboe was founded by St Canice, of which he was the first abbot, and in which he died ca 600 AD; and after the removal of the see from Saiger, there is little mention of the bishops of Aghaboe.

Felix O'Dullany, who succeeded him in 1178, removed the see from Aghaboe to the city of Kilkenny, as a place of greater security, where he laid the foundation of the cathedral church of St Canice, which was continued at a great expense by Hugh de Mapilton, and completed by Geoffrey St Leger, about 1270.

Richard Ledred, who was consecrated in 1318, beautified the cathedral and rebuilt and glazed all the windows.

He also built the episcopal palace, near the cathedral.

The diocese of Ossory continued to be a separate see until 1835, when, on the death of Dr Elrington, Lord Bishop of Ferns and Leighlin, both those dioceses were annexed to it, and their temporalities vested in the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.

The diocese, which is one of the five that constitute the ecclesiastical province of Dublin, constitutes almost the whole of County Kilkenny, a good part of the Queen's County (Laois), and some of the King's County (Offaly).

It extends 46 miles in length from north to south, and 29 in breadth.


THE PALACE, Kilkenny, is a Georgian house built on the foundations of an older medieval palace.

It was probably built by the Right Rev Charles Este, Lord Bishop of Ossory from 1735-40.

The palace has a plain façade.


In 1760, Bishop Pococke constructed a Doric colonnade which joined the palace to St Canice's Cathedral, including a splendid, single-storey, pedimented, bow-ended robing-room.

The colonnade was subsequently demolished; the robing-room, however, remains a feature of the palace garden.


The palace was restored about 1963 by Bishop McAdoo (later Lord Archbishop of Dublin).

The last bishop to live at the palace was the Right Rev John Neill, from 1997-2002.


Ross Willoughby has written about her childhood there.

In 2008, the palace became the headquarters of the Irish heritage council.

First published in November, 2015.

3 comments :

Anonymous said...

Why did they have to paint the walls?

Peter Neill said...

Actually the last Bishop to live there was The Right Rev John Neill, my father! I lived there from the end of 97 to 2002!

Timothy Belmont said...

Peter, many thanks for letting me know; proof that I'm not infallible!

I'll amend it.

Tim