Cantwell Fada – Kilkenny, Ireland - Atlas Obscura
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Kilkenny, Ireland

Cantwell Fada

A standing relief of a Norman knight whose posture marks him as a Crusader. 

Leaning against the back wall of a ruined 13th century church in the Irish townland of Kilfane is the remarkably well preserved stone carving of a Norman knight. 

Known as the Cantwell Fada, also called the Long Man, the effigy is believed to represent a figure named Thomas de Cantwell, a Norman adventurer who became lord of the Kilfane region. At over eight feet tall, the relief is a larger-than-life figure wearing chain mail and bearing a shield with the Cantwell family arms. Carved from a single, massive piece of limestone, the slab may have been the sarcophagus stone of a crusader, indicated by the effigy’s rare cross-legged posture. This relic also holds the distinction of being the tallest 13th century carving of its kind.

The Cantwell Fada and Kilfane church have also garnered their fair share of local tradition over the years. There is a local legend about a woman who was kidnapped and forced into marriage at the Kilfane church. When her intended suitor attempted to save her, she refused to go with him, preferring to stay with her kidnapper. In retaliation the jilted man supposedly killed her in a fire which damaged the church. In more recent lore, there are stories that say the students of a local Protestant school were made to kiss the Cantwell Fada as punishment for acting out.