St Edan’s Cathedral

The Church of Ireland Cathedral (said to be the smallest Cathedral in Europe) stands on the site of the early 13th century medieval Cathedral, which was built up by Bishop John St. John at the same time as the building of the Castle. John St. John was the first Norman bishop of Ferns, d 1243 – his effigy tomb lies near the entrance to the Cathedral.

The Cathedral was situated within the bounds of the monastery founded by St. Aidan in the 6th century. The Cathedral was largely destroyed by the O’Byrnes of Wicklow in 1575. Queen Elizabeth 1 order the Cathedral to be rebuilt in 1577.

The Cathedral was originally a transept or cross shape and over time was re-constructed and adapted to the needs of the time. A number of medieval elements remain intact in the chancel area such as beautiful medieval sinks or piscina used to wash sacred vessels. Internal pillars of the original structure can be seen built into the north and south walls, with masonry marks a direct link to the medieval past.

Consecration marks, possibly drawn by Bishop John St. John, point to the many hidden gems in the village of Ferns. This area was again rebuilt in the early 1800s, as commemorated in the date 1817 over the door.