Medieval Mile Museum
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Open February 2017. The Medieval Mile Museum is Kilkenny’s newest visitor attraction located in the heart of the city and the centre of Ireland Medieval Mile. The setting is the 13th century St Mary’s church with its heritage of medieval style tombs
Opening in February 2017. Kilkenny’s Medieval Mile Museum tells the stories behind Kilkenny’s Medieval Mile and the wealthy merchants who built and attended St Marys church and ruled the city between 1200 and 1650. The setting is the 13th century St Mary’s church and graveyard with its heritage of medieval and renaissance style tombs of national historical significance.
The Museum displays Kilkenny’s Civic Treasures, showcasing the Ossory High Crosses and magnificent stone carved tombs of the merchant families that bear witness to 800 years of Irish history. These original exhibits are truly stories carved in stone. During the restoration of the church and grounds many significant artifacts were unearthed and now form part of the fascinating exhibition on display.
St Mary’s Church occupied a prominent site in the walled ‘High Town,’ near Kilkenny castle. The opposite end of the Medieval Mile once formed the separate ‘Irishtown’. This was the cathedral town of the Bishop of Ossory. The exhibition introduces the Kingdom of Ossory and the foundation of the monastery of Chill Chainnigh (Kilkenny) by St Canice. The exhibition charts the history of the royal seat of Cearbhall Mac Dúnlainge, King of Ossory and the ‘Patron’ who erected the internationally renowned Ossory High Crosses, two of which take pride of place in the museum. The displays show Kilkenny as having the finest stone sculptural tradition in Ireland extending from the Neolithic period of 5,000 years ago to the modern era with period original examples on display in the Museum’s Monument Room as well as externally in the graveyard.
‘The Kilkenny Room’, houses important artifacts and archival documents dating back to key periods throughout the long history of the Medieval City of Kilkenny. It includes the 1231 Liber Primus Kilkenniensis, the 1609 Charter of James I and the city’s ceremonial sword and mace.
Engaging design and imaginative interpretation reveals how everyday life in Kilkenny has evolved throughout history from ancient times to early Christian, Medieval and Anglo Ireland and up to the present. The exhibition presents major milestones in the city’s civic development and the role of members of influential local families such as the Shees and the Rothes, many of whose remains are interred in the tombs of the St. Mary’s Graveyard.
The museum’s interior is full of surprises, no longer a church but renovated to preserve the building’s original atmosphere. The stories told are as surprising as the structure, revealing the historic and contemporary importance of Kilkenny. Visitors can explore the museum at their own pace or take a guided tour. A mix of fun hands-on experiences and digital media interpretation will tell the fascinating story of this building and grounds and Ireland’s Medieval Mile.