The next port of call was back across the market square to St. Brigid’s Cathedral. St. Brigid’s Cathedral which is located on the original grounds of St. Brigid’s wooden church. The Gaelic word for Kildare is Cill Dara, which means the Cell or Church of the Oak. Some of the information about the great history and archaeology of this great site comes from the guys at Abarta Heritage. Please take a moment and check out the link at the end of this post where you can hear the story for yourself with their free audio guides.
St. Brigid built her Abbey in Kildare around 480AD, on a Hill beside a great oak tree. Between 1223 and 1230 the present Cathedral was built. It was semi-ruinous by the year 1500, derelict by 1649; partially rebuilt in 1686 and finally restored to its present form from 1875 – 1896. Its environs include a Round Tower and a high cross. Major Restoration works took place in 1996. The Cathedral is open to the public Mon. – Sat. 10am – 1pm & 2pm – 5pm and Sunday 2pm – 5pm.The Cathedral closes October – April.
The present restored Norman cathedral most likely occupies the site of the original pagan shrine to the goddess Brigid and the later early Christian foundation and church of St. Brigid. The cathedral was built by the Norman Bishop Ralph of Bristol in 1223. It is built in the early gothic style with a square central tower.
Note that the cathedral has been built for defense as well as worship, a legacy of troubled times in the early Norman period. The cathedral continued to serve the people of Kildare down the centuries, though after the Reformation it gradually fell into disrepair and by 1641 it was totally ruined following the Confederate Wars. It was restored to its present glory in the 19th. Century and has in recent years undergone further restoration.