Kilfane Church

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Name Kilfane Church County Kilkenny Nearest Town Bennetsbridge Access Road N10 About Kilfane Church, two miles from Tullaherin Church, was originally founded by St.
Paan around the time of St. Patrick.


The present building with its adjoining Norman Tower House dates from the 14th or 15th century.

It features a number of interesting items: traces of the original consecration crosses (in red) on the wall near the West doorway and on the North and South walls; the three original ogee-headed doorways – two in the South wall and one in the North wall near the sacristy door.

On the North Wall, inside the ruins of the Kilfane Church is an effigy of a Norman knight carved in high relief from a single slab of limestone.

Except for the face, the body is completely covered in a suit of chain mail.

This effigy is famous throughout the world for its intricate detail and relevance to the history of the time.

Known as the Cantwell Fada (long man), its larger-than-life size makes it the tallest such effigy in Ireland and Britain.

The legs are crossed, the right over the left, and this is thought to signify that the knight took part in the crusades.

In the left hand is carried a large shield bearing thearms of the Cantwell family.

The sword is partly hidden behind the legs.

Around the ankles are strapped rowel spurs, an important feature in dating the sculpture.

The legs are crossed which is thought to signify that the subject took part in the Crusades.

The Cantwells were Lords of Kilfane and adjoining areas from shortly after the arrival of the Normans.

This depicts a Norman Knight in full armour.


The skillful carving of the features, combined with its early date of execution and excellent state of preservation make Cantwell Fada an unique treasure among Ireland’s medieval past.

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