North Cathedral Bicentenary Exhibition

From the collections of Cork City and County Archives Service.

1. Exterior of Cathedral, 1926

In the beginning...

2. East side of Cathedral, also showing Shandon Area, c.1952

The Cathedral of St. Mary and St. Anne is “the Mother Church of the diocese”. It takes its name from the Bishop’s chair – the Cathedra – which occupies a place of prominence in the sanctuary and symbolises the Bishop’s jurisdiction. It was Bishop Francis Moylan’s dream to build the Cathedral of St. Mary & St. Anne. Work began in 1799 and took 9 years to complete. The ‘North Chapel’ as it is popularly known was dedicated on Mon. 22nd Aug. 1808 ‘with a solemnity unexampled in these islands’(Cork Chronicle 26/08/1808). It was one of the first early examples of Neo-Gothic work in this country. The first ordination to take place in the Cathedral was that of John England on 10th Oct. 1808. Fr. England later became the first Bishop of Charleston, USA.

In 1820 a malicious fire caused extensive damage to both ends of the cathedral. Very little save the shell of the building remained.

4. Holy Water Font – dated 1799

Bishop John Murphy entrusted George Pain with the restoration of the Cathedral. The Cathedral as we know it today owes much to his vision. George Pain also designed Blackrock Castle, St. Patrick’s Church and Holy Trinity Church. Pain extended the Cathedral and in his renovation of the interior produced one of the ‘richest specimens of florid Gothic in Ireland’. Local sculptor John Hogan built the High Altar as his first commission. The 27 statues which he placed in niches around the altar can still be seen today. Between 1862 – 1867 Canon Daniel Foley, despite minimal funds, was responsible for building the great western tower, baptistry and mortuary. An accolade composed to Canon Foley reads:- ‘Southward on us fondly gazing, through its Gothic windowed eyes, is the massive tower raising its new structure to the skies. Lofty monument revealing persevering strength of will in the priest whose loud appealing placed it standing on the hill’ Further enhancements were envisaged by Bishop Delany. He employed Sir John Benson, whose proposal was to enlarge the size of the Cathedral and to further embellish the interior so as to make it one of the ‘most magnificent specimens of ecclesiastical architecture in the country’. However, the only work carried out was the great western door, the strengthening of the buttresses and the installation of the bells in 1870.

3. “Pieta” by Turnerelli – c. 1828

6. John Paul – bell ringer 1935

5. Interior of Cathedral, 1950’s

What joyous chimes, so new and sweet, ring out upon the winter air. See people pause in crowded streets, and peasants form their thanks in prayer. The solemn day – the promised hour – the smiling face of nature tells that now at length from yonder tower peal forth the Cork Cathedral Bells.

8. 1946 Post Card

In 1877 Bishop Delany acquired the ground space to the west of the Cathedral, thus providing for a more dignified approach from Clarence St. (Gerald Griffin St.). From this year onwards the main entrance to the Cathedral was from the west. It was a fitting tribute to Bishop Delany’s hard work that after his death a monument to his memory was placed before the main entrance.

7. Ossuary of Blessed Thaddeus McCarthy

The Cathedral was the venue for many historical events over the years but the building itself remained unchanged until 1964.

Francis Moylan (b.1735 - d.1815) Bishop of Cork 1787-1815

• Born in Cork on 17th Sept 1835 in the parish of St Finbarr. Moylan’s father was one of the “Merchant Princes” of Cork. Educated in France, Francis Moylan ordained a priest in June 1761. Spent his first years in Paris as secretary to the Archbishop of Paris. Returned to Cork in 1764 to serve as a curate under Bishop John Butler. 1775 Francis appointed to the See of Kerry. Pope Pius V1 viewed Moylan as “learned and prudent, of moral integrity and greatly to be recommended”. • Moylan’s integrity and prudence needed when made Bishop of Cork in 1787. The rule of Bishop John Butler had declined into controversy due to his inheritance of the family title of Dunboyne and his marriage to his brother’s widow. The scandal threatened the Catholic Church in Munster. As such Moylan was seen as “an Angel of Peace to announce Good tidings”!!! • Moylan was a great admirer of Nano Nagle and Edmund Rice’s efforts to educate the Catholic poor. Supported their efforts to establish schools in Cork. 15th January 1799 Nano Nagle opened North Presentation Convent in Philpott Lane and Rice established a catholic school for boys in the Convent too. Eventually the boys moved to a new location, Our Lady’s Mount, or the North Monastery. • By 1802 Bishop Moylan’s ambitious church building programme was well under way with 17 churches built. But his decision to build a Cathedral was his enduring legacy to the people of Cork.

• 1790 Francis Moylan purchased plot on North side of Cork city as the site for his seminary and his new Cathedral. Money to build the project came from Corkonians of all denominations. Foundation stone for the Cathedral laid in 1799. Building completed in 1808. The stonework of the Cathedral was a mixture of limestone and sandstone found in local quarries. As construction was completed the Cathedral was recognised as one of the “outstanding” buildings of these times. The altar, manufactured in Lisbon, was the first of its kind in Ireland, an elaborate tabernacle of eleven feet high dominating the interior. • Opened 22 August 1808, the Cathedral of St Mary and St Ann united the two old north side parishes into one large parish. Solemn blessing was performed by the Archbishop of Cashel, Thomas Bray in a ceremony of “unprecedented grandeur” for the time. The coadjutor Bishop of Cork, Dr. Florence McCarthy preached the sermon. The first priest to be ordained in the Cathedral was Fr. John England. • Access into the Cathedral was through Rogerson’s Lane/Cathedral Street. The more dignified front entrance came much later. In 1813 Moylan also set up a seminary, St Mary’s College, close to the Cathedral a forerunner to St Finbarr’s Seminary in Farranferris. • Francis Moylan died in 1815 still Bishop of Cork. His funeral was the first public funeral permitted to a Catholic Bishop in the city since the 16th century. At Francis Moylan’s request he was buried in the crypt of his Cathedral.

Michael Murphy

William Delaney

Daniel Coholan


William Delaney was born in Bandon in 1804. He was ordained a priest by Bishop John Murphy in the


February 1924 in Kilmichael Co.Cork.


July 1858 in Kilmichael Co.Cork.

Educated: St Finbarr’s College Farranferris; Maynooth College.

Cathedral on 8th Jan.1826. He was ordained Bishop of Cork in 1847 having served as Parish Priest of Bandon. Bishop Delaney died in 1886 and was buried at the Ursuline Convent, Blackrock. As a sign of affection a statue was erected in his honour in the Cathedral grounds.

Educated: St Finbarr’s Seminary

Farranferris; Maynooth College.

Ordained: June 1949 for the dioceses of Cork.

Ordained: 1883 to serve the Dioceses of Cork until his death in 1952.



On loan to American Missions 1949-55; CC in Ballingeary 1955-56; CC to the North Cathedral 1956- 1961;Peru Mission 1961-64; Trujillo Mission 1965-69; President of Farranferris College 1969-1976. Appointed Coadjutor Bishop to Bishop Lucey in April 1976; Appointed Bishop of Cork on Lucey’s retirement in August 1980. Bishop of Cork 1980 until his death in 1996.


Curate in Kilbrittain; Member of staff Farranferris College; Chaplain to the Crown forces in Cork 1884- 1885; Professor of Moral and Dogmatic Theology in Maynooth 1886-1914.

Key Events/issues: He was responsible for the building of churches throughout the diocese, such as St Peter and Pauls, Crosshaven, Monkstown and Kilmurry. Bishop Delaney was also involved in finishing the building of the Cathedral Tower following the attempts of Canon Daniel Foley.


Appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Cork in April 1914; Appointed Bishop of Cork in August 1916.



August 1952; Funeral Mass in the North Cathedral and buried in its grounds after. Bishop Coholan was 96 and had been Bishop of Cork for almost 36 years.


1996. Funeral mass in the North Cathedral and burial in the grounds later.

He was an eloquent speaker. Before his death he laid the foundation stone for Farranferris College, a seminary for the diocese, which had been a dream of Bishop Francis Moylan.

Key events/ issues: Very involved in guiding his Church through the turbulent political times of the 1920’s and 1930’s. Presided over the funerals of Tomas MacCurtain and Terence MacSwiney; reacted strongly to the violence of 1920 by issuing strong anti-violence sermons aimed at keeping his flock and his clergy out of the physical force movements of the day.

Key events/issues: Introduced new Diocesan scheme in 1981 for Parish renewal; spoke out many times on the unemployment situation of the 1980’s; instigated a complete refurbishment of the North Cathedral that was completed before his death in 1996.

Alphonsus O’Callaghan O.P


Bishop Alphonsus O’Callaghan was born in 1839 and studied for the priesthood in Minerva College, Rome.

Cornelius Lucey

John Murphy

Ordained: He was ordained for the Order of Preachers (The Dominican Order) in July 1893 and remained in their College in Rome until his appointment as Coadjutor Bishop of Cork.


July 1902 in Ballincollig Co.Cork.

Educated: St Finbarr’s College

Farranferris; Maynooth College; Innsbruck University.

John Murphy was born 23rd May 1772 and baptised on 14th June in St. Mary’s Cathedral. He was a descendant of the Murphy Brewing family of Cork City.



He died in 1916 and was buried in the Dominican Plot at St Josephs Cemetery.

Ordained: June 1927 for the Dioceses of Cork.


Head of Philosophy in Maynooth 1929-50; Priest to the mission of Turkana,Kenya in 1980 on his retirement as Bishop. Appointed Coadjutor Bishop of Cork in November 1950; Appointed Bishop of Cork on the death of Daniel Coholan in 1952 Retired as Bishop of Cork in 1980.

John Buckley

Ordained: He was ordained a priest on the 26th Nov.1796 and became Bishop of Cork on the 23rd of April 1815. He had served as archdeacon previous to this.



John Murphy died on the 1st of April 1847 and was buried in the crypt of the Cathedral.

Bishop John Buckley was born in Inchigeela (Uibh Laoire Parish) and studied for the priesthood in Maynooth.


Key Events/issues: Bishop Murphy oversaw the rebuilding of the Cathedral in 1820 after all but the shell of the

Bishop Lucey died in 1982 , Funeral mass was in the North Cathedral and burial in the grounds later.


building had been destroyed by fire. He entrusted the work to the architect George Pain; the ceilings of the present church were part of his work. He also commissioned the young sculptor John Hogan to design and execute the statues which would create a backdrop to the High Altar. These statues now stand in the Niches in the ceilings of the church.

Ordained: He was ordained in 1965. He became Bishop of the Diocese following the death of Bishop Michael Murphy in 1996.

Key Events/issues: Bishop Lucey was considered an authority on social issues and lectured widely on these before his installation as Bishop; As Bishop he

continued his interest in social justice with hard hitting sermons at confirmation ceremonies in the dioceses; he embarked on an ambitious church building programme in the late 1950’s with the construction of the so-called Rosary Churches.;also carried out extension to the North Cathedral in the 1960’s. On retiring as Bishop he went to serve on the missions in Africa at the age of 72.

Key Events/issues: He taught in the diocesan seminary, St.

Finbarr’s College and was made President of the college in 1975. He was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Cork and Ross in 1984, while serving as Parish Priest of Turners Cross. He initiated the programme ‘Pilgrim Steps’, which plans for the future of the Church in the diocese of Cork and Ross.

1. Crowds flock to see relics of St Therese of Lisieux, June 2001 (Priest is Fr. Vincent Hodnett)

3. Funeral of Former Taoiseach Jack Lynch, 1999

4. The funeral of Lord Mayor of Cork, Terence McSwiney, November 1920

13. Poster from St.Mary’s Hall, January 1943

2. Rededication of Cathedral, September 1996, with Bishop John Buckley, Fr. Liam O’Driscoll and Fr.Christy Fitzgerald

7. Eucharistic Procession 1950

9. Sr. Briege McKenna with George Fenney and Dommie Leahy, 2008

5. Parish Pilgrimage to Lourdes, 1990’s

10. Joe Higgins, Cathedral Organist, 2008

8. Sick Poor Society with Bishop Lucey, 1970, celebrating 150th anniversary fo the Society

11. St. Mary’s Hall/ Penny Bank, c.1920- 1930, a landmark for many years facing the main gates of the Cathedral

12. Founding members of St.Mary’s Hall

16. Cathedral Services Notice, 1935

15. Piece on the origins of the Cathedral Sick Poor Society, which was established in 1820 (Evening Echo)

6. Eucharistic Procession 2008

14. 1965 ‘Postcard’ for Cathedral Building Fund with drawing by John Wilson

Daniel Cohalan (b.1858 - d.1952) Auxiliary Bishop of Cork 1914-1916 Bishop of Cork 1916- 1952

2. & 3. Cork Free Press newspaper 20 May 1916 containing Bishop Cohalan’s Letter about the 1916 truce in Cork

z Daniel Cohalan was born in Kilmichael Co. Cork in July 1858. Having studied at Maynooth he was ordained a priest for the dioceses of Cork in 1883.He served a number of parishes and taught in St Finbarr’s Farranferris. He was also chaplain to the Crown forces from 1884-1885. From 1886 to 1914 Cohalan was on the staff of Maynooth College as professor of Moral and Dogmatic Theology. z In 1914 he was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Cork and by 1916 he was installed as Bishop of Cork serving the city until his death in 1952. For quite a few of those years Cohalan found himself drawn into the nationalist independence struggles of the day. His role here cast a long shadow over his episcopate as he tried to take the middle ground in a struggle that was rapidly deteriorating into chaos and turmoil. It was a role that demanded of him strength of character and ruthless imposition of church teaching on his flock in Cork. His anti-violence attitude was the guiding principle in his episcopacy. z He had a crucial role in the 1916 rising in Cork. It was he along with the Lord Mayor who arranged for the Volunteers including Tomas MacCurtain and Terence McSwiney to stand down in the face of superior Crown forces. Cohalan was eager to avoid bloodshed and having the city plunged into chaos. However it left a bad taste with the Volunteers that the British did not honour the terms of the agreement brokered by Cohalan and the Lord Mayor. z Cohalan’s determination to avoid disintegration of law and order in Cork spurred him to challenge the political manifesto of the emerging nationalist party Sinn Fein. Even as they established themselves a s a strong nationalist voice by 1917, Cohalan challenged their opposition stance to everything and instead put them under pressure to accept their role in responsible politics. z In 1918 Bishop Cohalan threw his weight behind the anti-conscription lobby. Conscription was a hugely emotive subject in Ireland and Cohalan was having none of it. He attended a public meeting in Cork making it clear that conscripting Irishmen to fight Britain’s wars was unacceptable. He also signed the Irish Bishops statement on conscription issued in Maynooth in 1918. z Political turmoil gripped the country by 1919. Cork was no different with the office of Lord Mayor going to a Sinn Fein man, a Volunteer and a rebel. The once unionist and loyal city was turning to Sinn Fein for its political leadership. z As the War of Independence developed, Cohalan found himself in the thick of things. In 1920 he presided over the funeral of Tomas MacCurtain leader of the Volunteers in Cork. The funeral was held in the Cathedral of St Mary and St Ann. MacCurtain’s replacement was Terence McSwiney. z Terence MacSwiney was arrested by Crown forces and following a courtmartial was sent to Brixton Prison. Once there McSwiney engaged in hunger strike to bring notice to the world of Ireland’s difficulties. The severity and length of his hunger strike had a fatal effect on McSwiney and horrified Cohalan. He visited McSwiney in Brixton Jail to try to get him to come off the strike. McSwiney’s death soon after was the signal for law and order to disappear on the streets of Cork. Shootings, Lootings, Stop and Search programmes, allincreased with the arrival in Ireland of the Black and Tans. z Cohalan presided over McSwiney’s funeral again in the Cathedral and began to make clear in no uncertain terms that violence begot violence. He went so far as to have words with his young curate Fr O’Flynn over the latter’s involvement with Sinn Fein and the nationalist cause. Cohalan was firmly of the belief that a priest had to follow the gospel and avoid any violence.He was determined that his clergy would give that message to their flock. z The 1920 burning of Cork City by the Black and Tans following the Dillon’s Cross and Kilmichael Ambushes saw the city spin out of control and into the hands of gunmen on both sides. It prompted Cohalan to issue a decree of excommunication against those who perpetrated violence in any form. It was issued in the Cathedral on December 12 1920. Cohalan in his eagerness to calm the city only inflamed heated debate among republicans about the best course of action. It drove a wedge between the IRA and the Catholic Church in Cork and between clergy and Bishop as a number of clergy were active in the IRA. z Most saw his policy as ineffective in quelling the violence that raged in Cork. Nevertheless he remained steadfast on this point isolating himself from republican parishioners and clergy. Even to the point after 1922 of refusing a Catholic burial to any hunger striker. z To underline his support for law and order, Cohalan welcomed the 1922 Treaty that established the Free State agreeing that it was not “perfection” but was a great “measure of freedom”. This support was preached publicly in the North Cathedral on December 10 1922. z With the coming of the new state Cohalan concerned himself with the role of the Catholic church in it. He was keen to see it use its pressure to avoid issues being discussed in the Senate that were not acceptable parts of Catholic teaching. He exhorted Catholics not to vote for any election candidates who were supporting un catholic measures being introduced. z In 1937 he turned his attention to the role of the Protestant churches in Ireland. He encouraged the protestant community of Cork to unite with its Catholic brethren to achieve Christian unity. He even went so far as to suggest to the Protestant Bishop of Cork that they merge the dioceses between them with St Finbarr’s Cathedral presiding over Southside and The North Cathedral presiding over Northside. All the Bishop had to do was to convert to Catholicism!! The death of Bishop Cohalan at he age of 96 in 1952 brought to an end a long reign as Bishop of Cork. His requiem mass was celebrated in the North Cathedral and he was buried in the grounds of Farranferris. Yet an interesting side note was that his earlier controversial role in Cork’s turbulent history cast a shadow over his funeral. Neither the President, Sean T. O’Kelly nor the Taoiseach, De Valera were at the funeral, citing ill health and other duties as reasons for this. However both had been anti-treaty men in their day and had not forgotten the emotive issues of those times and Cohalan’s role in them. Even at 96 Bishop Cohalan’s strong moral stance was still proving divisive and uncomfortable for many.

1. Bishop Daniel Cohalan

5. Memorial Card of Terence MacSwiney (1920) (Cork City Archives)

6. Mission Souveneir, March 1926

4. Text of 1st Page of Cohalan’s public letter of May 1916 (Cork City Archives)

8. to 12. Scenes from Bishop Coholan’s Funeral in 1952




14. Sermon by Cohalan on Centenary of Presentation Convent, Bandon (1929)


7. Address by Cohalan to AGM of Sick Poor Society (c. 1950’s) (Cork City Archives)

13. Letter from Cohalan to Liam De Roiste TD (16 Sept 1915) He remarks on his great sympathy with the Irish Language movement and his appreciation of the good work the Cork Branch of the Gaelic League is doing in the City and at Ballingeary.

15. Bishop Cohalan at The Lough Church, c.1930’s

1. Cathedral, South Side, c. 1900

In 1964 an extension of approx. 70 feet was built at the eastern end of the Cathedral. This meant that the spectacular Reredos executed by John Hogan had to be taken down. Continuing the history... The extension provided for a new raised Sanctuary, Conference room, Mortuary and basement rooms for parish use. The main gallery was re-organised to accommodate the organ, which was adapted by Messrs. Henry Willis & Sons, and to provide ample choir space. Externally, a new Sanctuary Tower, rising to height of 80 feet, was built to complement Canon Foley’s Western Tower. In line with 2nd Vatican Council, an oak altar was placed to the front of the marble altar, which was reduced in size. New mahogany seating was installed and new Stations of the Cross were erected. It is regretted that several historical tablets were removed during this renovation process, namely that to Bishop John Murphy executed by John Hogan and that to Bishop John England. Also the Foundation Stone which was in the North Wall was plastered over. Three beautiful new stained glass windows were installed in the Sanctuary, one depicting the Crucified Christ, set in abstract designs of blues, greens and yellows. During the renovations the bones of those interred in the Crypt were re-interred in St. Finbarr’s Cemetery. The names are recorded on a tablet stone outside the north wall of the Cathedral. They are:-

7. Patrick Pye’s ‘Annunciation’

2. Drawing of Cathedral for 1965 rebuilding

Rev. Mother Mar P. Fitzgerald, Foundress, North Pres. Convent

1810 1814 1815 1816 1817 1829 1847 1847 1876

Very Rev. Robert McCarthy, VG

Right Rev. Francis Moylan, Bishop of Cork

Rev. John McDonogh, CC Very Rev. James O’Mahony, PP

Rev. John Murphy, CC

Right Rev. John Murphy, Bishop of Cork Right Rev. William Clancy, Bishop of Ortense

Very Rev. Cornelius O’Keeffe

Very Rev. Daniel Canon Foley, ‘through whose untiring exertions this Cathedral was enlarged and the Tower built’


In Aug. 1994 parishioners were alerted to some alarming information. Heavy rain had revealed some serious problems, wet rot, dry rot and woodworm in the roof. It was obvious that major renovation needed to be done.

3. Interior of Cathedral, 1977

Once it was clear that major work was necessary, it was decided to re-order the interior of the Cathedral.

The Cathedral was closed for 15 months and reopened on 29th Sept. 1996.

Many local craftsmen were involved in the refurbishment. A major fund- raising initiative was inaugurated involving parishioners, local businesses and reaching to the far ends of the diocese.

Many changes were made to the interior.

4. Cork Weekly Examiner, 28 Jan 1965, concerning rebuilding

The cathedra (Bishop’s chair) was relocated to the centre of the altar presiding over all ceremonies. Hogan statues which had been ‘lost’ since 1964 were found and were placed in niches high in the ceiling. A new altar, ambo and tabernacle pillar sculpted from Portland stone by Tom Glendon of Dublin. Cork man Ken Thompson designed and executed the Processional Cross, the Pascal Fire stone and the name stone, and the shrine to Blessed Thaddaeus McCarthy and St. Joseph the Worker. The set of paintings depicting the life of Mary, which are located in the Lady Chapel, are by Patrick Pye. The sanctuary furniture was commissioned from Eric Pearce, based in Kilbrittain. The new stained glass window in the beautiful new Blessed Sacrament Chapel is the work of James Scanlon. Cork. The tabernacle and sanctuary lamp are by Peter Donovan, Kilkenny. The old Baptismal Font was repositioned inside the main door. ‘It is the first of three sacraments by which a person is initiated into the people of God, the Church’.






z z

6. Easter Ceremonies 1999

5. Interior, 2008

z z

Painted in light colours and with stunning new lighting, the Cathedral exuded warmth and peace. A truly prayerful place

10. Birds Eye View from Cathedral, early 1930’s. Possibly a mass to mark the start of the Cathedral Rd. Housing Scheme. Shows St.Mary’s Hall at top, and Bailey’s Lane, the precursor of the Cathedral Rd.

8. Ken Thompson’s wooden carving of ‘St. Joseph the worker’

11. Cathedral altar arrives, 1996

12. Cathedral scaffolded in 1996 renovations

9. New Tabernacle in Blessed Sacrament Chapel

Cathedral Choir

2. Alois Fleischmann

10. Letter written by Alois Fleischmann, 1947

The choir has been central to the story of the North Cathedral for well over a century.

1. Hans Conrad Swertz 1879

Leopold de Prins, from Belgium, became organist in the Cathedral in 1870. De Prins soon developed a highly respected choir, which primarily sang plain chant, and he remained in the position until 1889 when he was succeeded by a German, Hans Swertz. Swertz had been organist of St. Vincent’s Church in Sundays Well from 1879. The Cathedral Choir was at that stage a male/female mix. In 1903 Pope Pius X reformed church music which excluded women from church choirs altogether. Swertz resigned in protest and in 1906 moved to the USA. Meanwhile, his daughter Tilly had married a talented young organist from Dachau in Germany named Aloys Fleischmann (born 1880). Tilly, herself an accomplished pianist, persuaded Aloys to apply for the Cathedral post vacated by her father. Fortunately Aloys’ application was accepted, and so began his long and distinguished service to choral music in Cork.

3. Cathedral Choir – circa 1940’s

Fleischmann immediately founded a boys choir to accompany the men, and expanded the range and style of music being sung and played in the Cathedral. 16th and 17th Century Polyphonic and Gregorian chant were now used extensively. Herr Fleischmann played for the requiem mass for Lord Mayor of Cork, Terence MacSwiney, who died on hunger strike in 1920. In 1922 an impressive new organ was installed in the church, further enhancing the sound. By now the reputation of the choir had grown, and the 100 strong membership of 60 men and 40 boys gave numerous performances. As well as regular Sunday Mass, Confraternities and the annual Corpus Christi procession, the choir sang on Irish radio and on the BBC World Service. English composer, Sir Arnold Bax, heard the choir in 1929 and gave rave reviews.

4. Fleischmann Choir – 1929

Aloys Fleischmann, who received a papal medal in 1954, died in January 1964.

5. Choir 1970’s with conductor Ned Evans

He was succeeded as choir master by Ned Evans

In the 1980’s, the choir came full circle and returned to a mixed gender status. To this day the choir admirably continues the rich tradition of sacred music in the North Cathedral under the direction of conductor Ann Roche and organist Joe Higgins. The choir sang at the 1996 rededication of the renovated Cathedral and in 1999 they sang at the requiem mass for former taoiseach Jack Lynch.

6. Mixed choir – c. 1940’s

8. Boys choir – c. 1920’s

11. Special Mass, listing members of the Choir, 1924

7. Fleischmann conducting choir

12. Choir, c.1960s or 1970s

9. 2008 choir with Ann Roche conductor

James Christopher O’Flynn was born on 12th Dec. 1881 at no. 12 Mallow Lane (Shandon St.). He was one of seven children in the family of Cornelius & Catherine O’Flynn. Known in the family as Jimmy, he was a great mimic and had a deep interest in Irish history, language and culture. He recalls that as a boy his father held him on his shoulder to watch the great Parnell pass by St. Patrick’s Church on his way to address the people of Cork. Jimmy went to Blackpool national school and North Monastery. When he left school he worked for some time in the offices of Ogilvie & Moore. But he was drawn to the priesthood and so he went to Farranferris College and later Maynooth where he was ordained in 1909. His first appointment was in Farranferris College where he taught elocution – he was also chaplain to Our Lady’s Hospital. During his time in Our Lady’s Asylum, Fr. Christy became sympathetic to the republican cause. IRA men on the run knew that the asylum was a safe place to go to if in trouble. His activities came to the attention of Bishop Coholan and colleagues. During the course of an evening in the Cathedral Presbytery the Canon took him aside and advised him to be careful of his activities as Ireland had no need of any more martyrs. Early next day, Fr. O’Flynn drove to the Bishop’s residence on his ‘Red Indian motor cycle (with sidecar). Without beating about the bush he informed the Bishop “I’m for De Valera: I voted Sinn Fein last Dec. and I’ve subscribed to the loan in support of Dail Eireann”. He then produced a receipt of ?5 signed by Michael Collins, Minister for Finance. Soon after Fr. O’Flynn was moved to the Bishop’s own parish church, the North Cathedral. Fr. O’Flynn was soon immersed in the lives and struggles of the people of the north parish. They felt he was one of their own. One of his first official duties in the Cathedral was to assist at the requiem mass for Terence MacSwiney on Nov. 1st 1920. Tensions were very high. A number of incidents in 1921 left a deep mark on Fr. O’Flynn and changed the course of his life. On Sat. 14th May, while preparing his Sunday sermon, he heard a loud explosion. An ambush in O’Connell St. nearby had left four RIC men wounded and one dead. Fr. O’Flynn rushed to the scene where he gave the last rites. An angry crowd had gathered and Fr. O’Flynn quelled the tension and prevented further bloodshed by getting the crowd and forces to back down. He was offered an escort home which he refused saying he was among his own. Some time after that he got a huge blow when he heard that his close friend, Fr. O’Callaghan, had been shot by the ‘Tans’. They had been ordained together. Fr. O’Flynn raced to the North Infirmary and prayed and held his hand until he died. His friend’s death had a terrible effect him. He realised that the war had become an ‘eye for an eye’ and a terrible waste of life. Being a great orator himself and a lover of Shakespeare he gathered together a group of parishioners in the Cathedral Presbytery and instructed them in the techniques of acting. This small beginning in 1926 of An Crioch Scoil, which soon became known as the ‘Cork Shakespearean Company’, grew so much that a new premises was found in Gerald Griffin St. and later again the group moved to John Redmond St. Here in a ‘loft’ room over a sweet factory was where many of our well known actors got their training. It was here in Fr. James Christopher Flynn 1881-1962

2 . 1962, BBC documentary about Father O’Flynn

1. 1909 Photograph of Father O’Flynn as a young man

4. At prayer

3. Fr. O’Flynn and his family

humble beginnings that Chris Curran, Eileen Curran, James Stack, Eddie Golden, Edward Mulhare, Joe Lynch, etc.; people who made acting their career, began. ‘The Loft’ as it became affectionately known, held its’ first major production in the Opera House in 1927, where they performed for 5 nights. A more ambitious undertaking was in 1929 when the company gave 8 performances in the one week. This company of actors still perform today. Fr. O’Flynn was at this time was making a name for himself for helping people with speech difficulties, especially stammers. He utilised special breathing exercises which he had developed for his actors. In 1946 Fr. O’Flynn was transferred to Passage West. He formed a children’s choir in the girls’ school which had great success throughout Ireland and also broadcast on Radio Eireann. He was also a founder member of Passage Rowing Club. In the early 60’s a production team from the BBC came to Cork to make a documentary on Fr. O’Flynn. The film; called ‘It happened to me’, fascinated viewers with his speech therapy techniques and also showed the great love of his parishioners for him and him for them. Hywell Davies, who was the

7. Shakespeare Society Poster, 1927

5. Fr. O’Flynn, an active organiser of the Harriers drag hunt

narrator of the documentary, said of him “I have never met, nor think I ever shall meet, such a mixture of strength and tenderness, of purposefulness and compassion and generosity and of downright devilment and fun”. In Dec. 1961, Fr. Christy suffered a heart attack and was taken to the North Infirmary where he died 18th Jan. 1962. It is strangely fitting that he died across the road from his beloved ‘Loft’ and a stone’s throw from his birth home in Shandon St., and under the shadow of the North Cathedral where he served for much of his priestly life.

6. Fr. O’Flynn helped to set up the Cork Shakespearian Society, outing, 1931

(Special thanks to Breda O’Driscoll, whose research provided much of the material for this article)

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