Kilfenora and Cathedral

Kilfenora village

While it doesn’t take long to walk round Kilfenora, the discerning visitor can spot a number of features. These include:

  • a 13 feet high carved celtic cross in a field between the cathedral and the catholic church;
  • the plaque on the Burren Centre marking the centenary of the Kilfenora Céilí Band;
  • a plaque on the Community Hall in memory of the filming of Father Ted;
  • an ancient and curious structure by the new houses beyond Connole’s garage, which was used as a reckoning station by merchants at Kilfenora’s ancient butter market;
  • the remnants of the Ballyshanny castle half a mile further on towards Lisdoonvarna, visible to the right of the road;
  • the Deanery – half a mile down the back road to Doolin – where Kilfenora’s sports fields are located.

Of course, Father Ted fans can have fun trying to spot the various locations used in filming the TV series.


Built in 1058 on the site of St Fachnan’s 6th century monastery, the roofed part of the cathedral is used for occasional Church of Ireland services. Its exceptional acoustics have also made it an excellent venue for periodic concerts.
A new steel and glass roof was erected in 2004 to protect some of the cathedral’s chancel and fine stone carvings.

Various of the famous ‘seven crosses’ can be seen in and around the cathedral and its graveyard, notably the Doorty Cross. Particularly significant among the graves is that of Kitty Linnane, where each St. Patrick’s Day local musicians gather to play tunes in tribute to the Kilfenora Céilí Band’s famous band leader.

The ‘Bishop of Kilfenora’

John Paul II, the late Bishop of Kilfenora

By local tradition, the Pope is regarded as the bishop of Kilfenora in perpetuity. This reflects a degree of disagreement with the decision some centuries ago to merge the Kilfenora diocese – at 13 parishes the smallest in Ireland – with another bishopric (currently Galway & Kilmacduagh).

Old Kilfenora

Click here for pictures of Kilfenora in times past.