St. Laserian’s Cathedral, Old Leighlin
St Laserian’s Cathedral in County Carlow is one of the undiscovered gems in Ireland and is a magnificent example of a late 12th century cathedral.
Early in the seventh century St Gobban founded a monastery at Old Leighlin where in 630 AD a synod was held to consider the correct time for the celebration of Easter. St Laserian, who succeeded Gobban, was very influential in deciding the Irish Church should follow the Roman, rather than the Celtic System for deciding the date of Easter.
Laserian died in AD 639 and was buried in his own church, but the site of his tomb is unknown as the original monastic buildings, probably wooden, were destroyed by fire c1060 AD The present stone building was begun by Donatus, Bishop of Leighlin c1152-1181 and was completed by the end of the 13th Century.
There have been numerous alterations carried out since, especially in the time of Bishop Matthew Sanders (1529-1549) whose tomb is near the sanctuary. These alterations included the insertion of a tower, the addition of the chapel north of the chancel, which is now the chapter room, and the partial rebuilding of the north and south chancel walls.
The four-bay sedilia with trefoiled heads, dating from the late 13th century, is probably the only one of it’s kind in Ireland. The eleventh century font, one of two in the cathedral, is probably the oldest item in the building.
No shop or toilets on site but these are available in the village. There is a brief history of the cathedral and a small selection of postcards. Copies of Ireland of the Welcomes (March-April 2000) which included a detailed feature on the cathedral with beautiful colour photographs can also be purchased.
Old Leighlin Village, County Carlow. Off the main N9 road from Kilkenny to Carlow. Old Leighlin is a designated HeritageVillage and is well signposted
From mid June until the end of August the cathedral will be open Monday-Friday from 10.a.m. until 4 p.m. and a guide will be available. There is a donation box in the cathedral.
DEAN: The Very Reverend Tom Gordon
Leighlin website: http://www.saintlaserianscathedral-parishes.ie/
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