Sunday, March 28, 2010

St Canice, Barrack Obama, Witchcraft & Kilkenny

All of these are connected to this building, Kilkenny gets its name from Canice, in Irish Cill Chainnigh means the church of Canice. This site was a church since the 6th century, later on a stone structure would have replaced the timber, the present building that stands today was started in the 13th Century. It started out as a Roman Catholic church but ended up a Church of Ireland Cathedral.
These two graves have been recently traced to Barrack Obama, the one on the wall was his sixth generation grand uncle John Keaney 1741-1813 the one on the floor his son John Kearney 1838,a line that died out with the death of Johns son with cholera in 1824. This is the only place in Ireland that a physical tombstone can be found of his ancestors, or a house that an ancestor lived in. Barrack is a direct decendent of John's seniors brother Michael. This is on Barracks Mothers side, Michael Kearney can be traced to Moneygall  in Co Offaly. Both places are hoping that Barrack will visit if he comes over to Ireland.

Only a few steps from the burial place of Barrack Obama's ancestors is the tomb of  Dame Alice Kytler. She was an educated independent woman with strong opinions who had outlived three of her husbands, with a fourth following hotly in their footsteps, which in those times was not a great combination. On top of this her darling son accused her of sweeping the dust of the town to his door uttering the prayer "To the house of William my son, hie all the wealth of Kilkenny Town."  She was condemned to death along with her maid for the crime of witchcraft, they fled Dame Alice got away but her maid Petronella got caught. Petronella the poor dear has the honour of being the first Irsh person to be burned alive at the stake for being a witch. Alice got the blame for the collapse of the tower onto the church, yet still she was buried there on her death.

Some of the Church of Ireland tombs, apparently some of the men loved their dogs (hint look at thier feet).
In 1650 the City had suffered from the plague and was weakened and was a target of Oliver Cromwell after he had rested his troops after their butchery at the sacking of Wexford town. The City under Butler managed to defend its walls for a time, but eventually had to surrender under Terms in case it received the same fate as Irish Town or Gowran after the wall was breached and the Cathedral was taken. The troops destroyed all the Catholic gravestones and the building passed over to the Church of Ireland. These gravestones below were from the Catholic graveyard that were rescued and preserved as part of the flooring.
Some of the stained glass windows in the church
The roof was replaced in the 19th century to what the Victorian designers thought that it would have looked like in medievil times.
The Tower was built in the 9th Century but fell in the 1300's, being blamed on the witch Dame Alice Kytler. It was rebuilt at that time but lower than the original, it does not have much of a foundation only .6m deep and when excavated in the 1800's there were graves underneath.


Kimberly said...

Wow... I LOVE this post! Mostly because i just have a fascination with old buildings! And it was a neat fact about Barrack Obama! Thanks!

Paz said...

On its own the building is quite cool, but the history that goes with it from Cromwell, Witch's and
Barrack makes it even more so.

Leisha Camden said...

If Obama ever does come to Ireland he will definitely visit that grave. A lot of Irish-American voters to suck up to. ;-)

When was that witch burning? 14th century? Did Ireland have a lot of them or comparatively few? (Hint: If your laws allowed torture, you had a lot, if not, you had much fewer ... o_O)

I can see that those guys really loved their dogs - so much so that they're stomping on them ... ;-)

Some wonderful carvings on those gravestones in the floor ... !!

Paz said...

there were a few witches here not sure how many were burned

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