St Laserian’s Cathedral in Old Leighlin

St Laserian’s Cathedral is located in Old Leighlin (county of Carlow)

Address: , Old Leighlin

Position on map:

Phone: 059 9721570

The cathedral is one of Ireland’s most important, yet understated, ecclesiastical sites. It is also Carlow’s oldest working building. Nestling in the village of Old Leighlin, the Saint Laserian’s is for many an undiscovered gem. The community at Leighlin [literally, ‘half-glen’] was formed by Saint Gobhan around 600CE. His successor, Saint Laserian the first bishop of Leighlin, presided over a monastic community of around fifteen hundred people. Laserian is celebrated for the synod held in Leighlin in 630CE which led to the Irish church adopting the Roman calendar in defining the date of Easter. This points to the prominence and significance of the Leighlin site. The original wooden structure was destroyed by fire after which Bishop Donatus [1152-1185] began the present building. Most of the fabric dates from the 12th and 13th centuries, whereas the tower and transepts derive from the episcopate of Bishop Saunders [1527-1549]. The cathedral is full of mystery, dark events and unanswered questions. Almost no part of the building is symmetrical with any other. Windows are in sharp stylistic conflict. The Nave for some puzzling reason has no windows at all. Uniquely, there are four sedilia, one raised above the other, perhaps providing an insight on ancient and more disdainful views of bishops. There are doors which are blocked up and whose purpose is uncertain. The proportionate size of the newly-restored Lady Chapel is inexplicable. The crude 17th buttress is allowed to barbarously block the fine 13th chancel window. And there is the underground passage whose purpose and direction illicit only uncertain explanation


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