Kilkenny has two cathedrals, the older St Canice’s belonging to the Church of Ireland and St Mary’s for the catholic faith. Both are fairly similar in size, although the tower of St Mary’s is higher, carried up another level to finish in a lantern surmounted by pinnacles. Designed by William Deane Butler, the cathedral draws its inspiration from Norman architecture. Not a large cathedral by the standards of the day, with many slightly later cathedrals by J.J. McCarthy being far larger, the building is cruciform with a nave of five bays and aisle-less transepts. The interior was remodelled in line with the Vatican II proposals, but here it is much more sympathetic than many, for example the changes at McCarthy’s masterwork at Monaghan.
The adjoining presbytery which is linked to the cathedral by an angled covered passageway dates from 1864, some twenty years after the start of the cathedral project.