Kilkenny West Church

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Name Kilkenny West Church County Westmeath Nearest Town Athlone Access Road N55 More Virtual Tours Click for more About Kilkenny West Church is located just off the N55, north of Athlone Town and is noted for the fact that the father of the well known writer Oliver Goldsmith was one rector of this parish, and it is reputed that Oliver Goldsmith as a young man worshipped there.


According to the popular legend Oliver Goldsmiths career as a poet is said to have started in Kilkenny West church in County Westmeath while his father was preaching.


He noticed a rat climbing down a rope from the belfry and immediately composed the following lines: "A pious rat, for want of stairs/ came down a rope to say his prayers".


An unusual mid-nineteenth-century Church of Ireland church, Kilkenny West is now an attractive roofless ruin in the landscape.

This simple church has a number of interesting and well-built features, including the cut stone bellcote over the entrance gable and the good quality dressings to the openings.

The perforated circular disks to the north and south elevations of the nave are a curious feature that were possibly intended to act as vents.

The round-headed openings are an interesting feature of this church, differing from the prevailing pointed Gothic style, which was almost the norm for church building projects in Ireland at the time.

This church was built to designs by Joseph Welland, who had sole responsibility for all Church of Ireland building projects in Leinster at this time.

To the rear of this church lie the remains of a late-seventeenth century mortuary chapel.

The Rev.
Charles Goldsmith, father of the renowned eighteenth century poet and playwright Oliver Goldsmith (1730-1774), was curate at Kilkenny West between 1730 and his death in 1747.
His remains are interred in the graveyard.


The good quality boundary wall, gates and cut limestone steps complete the setting of this important composition.


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