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St. Flannan’s – Killaloe’s 13th century cathedral

Killaloe, East Clare

Free To Visit

St. Flannan’s Cathedral is Killaloe’s 13th-century cathedral. It is located on the banks of the canal, overlooking the River Shannon.

An ever-present guardian standing tall and proud in Killaloe’s skyline, this majestic building of worship has witnessed centuries of history. Inside you will find many artefacts from the past; the runic-ogham stone carved by a Viking named Thorgrim, the 12th-century Celtic cross transported from Kilfenora to Killaloe by Bishop Mant in 1821, the romanesque portal believed to be from the previous ‘Lost Cathedral’, and more.

The cathedral’s structure remains true to its original state with only a few structural modifications over 100s of years. By stepping inside, you can imagine yourself in 13th-century Ireland. The interior walls are decorated with memorials to long-departed Anglo-Irish families, who occupied the various landed estates in the surrounding countryside. These include The Twiss family of Birdhill, the Purdons of Tinerana, the Browns of Clonboy, and the Parkers of Ballyvalley.

The top of the bell tower offers views of counties Clare and Tipperary and on a clear day the counties of Galway and Limerick. In the belfry, there is a chime of eight bells, cast in 1896 and installed in 1900 when the tower was raised.

The east window of the cathedral is a brilliant glass of three lights, manufactured by Warrington of London. The window was installed in 1865 at a cost of approximately £300. It originally depicted the 12 Apostles with St. Paul in the centre. In the 1900s, St. Paul was replaced with a depiction of Christ. If you look closely you can see the difference in the glass.

In the south transept of the church is St. Paul’s chapel, a beautiful little place of worship, with its rough-hewn cross in the tall gothic window, old altar and pulpit. It is a place even more tranquil than the main chancel. The stained-glass depiction of St. Paul from the original Warrington window is in the East window of this sacred place.

In the graveyard stands the Oratory, which is also dedicated to St. Flannan. It is a small stone roofed structure which predates the cathedral and is believed to have been built in the 12th century. It is a spectacular building with its wide span barrel roof and overcraft.

The cathedral is open daily and services are held on Sunday and Tuesday.

Attraction Highlights

  • Romanesque Portal with over 300 carvings, believed to be from the Lost Cathedral built by King Domnal Mór O’Brien in the 12th Century.
  • The East Window – depicting Christ the Good Shepherd and the twelve Apostles.
  • The Rose Screen – installed in 1892 by John Sisk of Cork.
  • The Runic and Ogham stone – discovered in 1916 in the boundary wall of the cathedral.
  • St. Flannan’s Oratory – standing beside the cathedral and dating from the 12th Century.

Good to Know

Admission: Free to visit.

Open months:  Open year-round.

Visit duration: 30 to 60 minutes.

Suitability for younger children: Moderately suited.

Rainy days: Mostly indoor.

Accessibility: Partially wheelchair accessible, no accessible toilets.

Assistance/guide dogs: Permitted.

Groups: Discount for more than 15 in a guided tour.

Parking: Free parking near-by.

Details are subject to change. It is always advisable to check the opening dates, times, and other information on their website or directly with the attraction before visiting or booking. 

About Killaloe


The lively waterside town of Killaloe is one of Ireland's most visited towns. Home to the last High King of Ireland, it is steeped in history.