Kildare Cathedral
The Cathedral Church of St. Brigid, Kildare is a cathedral
A cathedral is a Christian church that contains the seat of a bishop...

 of the Church of Ireland
Church of Ireland
The Church of Ireland is an autonomous province of the Anglican Communion. The church operates in all parts of Ireland and is the second largest religious body on the island after the Roman Catholic Church...

 in Kildare
-External links:*******...

, County Kildare
County Kildare
County Kildare is a county in Ireland. It is part of the Mid-East Region and is also located in the province of Leinster. It is named after the town of Kildare. Kildare County Council is the local authority for the county...

 in Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

. It is in the ecclesiastical province
Ecclesiastical Province
An ecclesiastical province is a large jurisdiction of religious government, so named by analogy with a secular province, existing in certain hierarchical Christian churches, especially in the Catholic Church and Orthodox Churches and in the Anglican Communion...

 of Dublin.


35 years after Saint Patrick settled in Armagh, St. Brigid arrived in Kildare with her nuns in the year 480A.D. Her original abbey church would have been a simple wooden building. So great was her fame, that soon after her death in 523 A.D. a costly shrine was erected in her honour in a new and larger building. For many centuries Kildare maintained a unique Irish experiment; the Abbess ruled over a double community of women and men, and the Bishop was subordinate in jurisdiction to the abbess.
Between the years 835 and 998 the cathedral was devastated no less than 16 times, so that when the Norman, Ralph of Bristol, became bishop in 1223 it was virtually in ruins. Between then and 1230 it was largely rebuilt. it was semi-ruinous by 1500A.D. It was derilict by 1649. In 1686 it was partially rebuilt.

Current status

Previously the cathedral of the Diocese of Kildare, it is now one of two cathedrals in the United Dioceses of Meath and Kildare
Diocese of Meath and Kildare
The United Dioceses of Meath and Kildare is a diocese in the Church of Ireland located in Ireland. The diocese is in the ecclesiastical province of Dublin.-Overview and history:...


The present building is a restored Norman
Norman architecture
About|Romanesque architecture, primarily English|other buildings in Normandy|Architecture of Normandy.File:Durham Cathedral. Nave by James Valentine c.1890.jpg|thumb|200px|The nave of Durham Cathedral demonstrates the characteristic round arched style, though use of shallow pointed arches above the...

 cathedral dating from 1223. The site occupied by the cathedral is likely the site of a pagan shrine to the goddess Brigid and the later of the church of Saint Brigid. Beside it stands one of County Kildare's five round towers
Irish round tower
Irish round towers , Cloigthithe – literally "bell house") are early medieval stone towers of a type found mainly in Ireland, with three in Scotland and one on the Isle of Man...

 which is 32 metres (105 ft) high, and which can be climbed at certain times.

The austere cathedral built in the years following 1223, probably by Ralph of Bristol who was made Bishop of the see in 1222 and died in 1232. It is cruciform in plan without aisles in the early gothic style with a massive square central tower. All the windows are lancet windows, singles or doubles ,but triple lancets in the four gables. Unique and attractive features of the design are the arches which span between buttress to buttress in advance of the side walls. The parapets are of the stepped Irish type (now much restored) but probably datable to c. 1395, the year in which a Papal relaxation was given to those who visited Kildare and gave alms for the conservation of the church. The interior treatment is very plain, the window splays are not moulded, but the rear-arches, which are, spring from shafts with moulded capitals. These shafts are short and terminate in small curved tails.


The altar-tomb effigy of Bishop Walter Wellesley
Walter Wellesley
Walter Wellesley was a sixteenth-century Irish cleric and judge. He was Prior of Great Connell Priory, Bishop of Kildare 1529-39, and Master of the Rolls in Ireland.- Background and early career :...

 (died 1539) which is a superb example of 16th. century sculpture.

The Sheelagh-na-gig (erotic carving) is very unusual to find in cathedrals.

Solid oak stalls for the choir and chapter with acorn and oak leaf carvings.

Bishops throne.

High altar area with reproductions of the Medieval originals.

Carved Caen Stone pulpit with carvings of the four evangelists and Irish marble columns.

Lady Chapel.

Conagher built alter built in 1898 which is currently being restored with the support of Prof. Gerard Gillen.

St. Luke stained glass window by Gerda Schurmann (from Czech Republic) dated 1974.

Stone baptismal font which is not original to the Cathedral but is dated from Medieval period.
West window dedicated to St. Patrick, St. Brigid and St. Columba.

Demise and resurrection

The Cathedral fell into disrepair following the English Reformation
English Reformation
The English Reformation was the series of events in 16th-century England by which the Church of England broke away from the authority of the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church....

 and was ruined during the Irish Confederate Wars
Irish Confederate Wars
This article is concerned with the military history of Ireland from 1641-53. For the political context of this conflict, see Confederate Ireland....

The restoration of the building was undertaken during the 19th century by George Edmund Street
George Edmund Street
George Edmund Street was an English architect, born at Woodford in Essex.- Life :Street was the third son of Thomas Street, solicitor, by his second wife, Mary Anne Millington. George went to school at Mitcham in about 1830, and later to the Camberwell collegiate school, which he left in 1839...

 His work included new north trancept, new chancel, and new west wall as well as rebuilding three sides of the square tower. The new oak roof which is supported on stone corbels built into the wall buttresses.

In recent years as part of the centenary, the Cathedral has undergone further restoration including new internal porches, repairs to internal and external stonework and rebuilding of the Organ..

George Edmund Street, Architect.

George Edmund Street
George Edmund Street
George Edmund Street was an English architect, born at Woodford in Essex.- Life :Street was the third son of Thomas Street, solicitor, by his second wife, Mary Anne Millington. George went to school at Mitcham in about 1830, and later to the Camberwell collegiate school, which he left in 1839...

started restoration work on the Cathedral in 1875 and work continued after his death in 1881 until it was complete in 1896.

A Prayer For The Cathedral And For Its Visitors

Eternal Father,

For this holy and beautiful house of prayer,

We ask your mercy and seek your continual help:

That it may be a home of refuge amidst the storms of this world,

A witness to your eternal truth and goodness,

A light to those who are in darkness,

Hope to the fallen and strength to the weak and faint hearted:

Through Jesus Christ our Lord.
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