Cantwell Fada is carved in high relief from a single slab of limestone. It is 951/2 inches high which makes it the tallest such effigy in Britain and Ireland.
Except for the face, the body is completely covered in a suit of chain mail. This was made of a mesh of individually riveted and overlapping metal links, up to 100,000 in a single suit. Mail was popular in the early period but went out of fashion in c1400 when it was replaced by plate armour.
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 the arms of the Cantwell family.
It is thought that the effigy may have been carved c1330 and that it represents one Thomas Cantwell who was said to be "worn out with age" in 1319. This is by no means certain and some authorities date the carving to a much earlier period.
Kilfane church was founded by St. Paen in very earliest Christian times. St. Paen was son of an Ulster king, whose mother came from Wales. The current ruin is of a later date and is built on, or near the site of the original.
Back To Kilkenny.
Kilkenny Castle, Saint Canice's Cathedral, Rothe House, Black Abbey, Kells Priory, Tullaherin, Cantwell Fada, Jerpoint Abbey, Inistioge.