North Cathedral Bicentenary Exhibition

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.

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