- Contact InformationAddress: Bishop Street
Cork City Centre
IrelandPhone: +353 21 496-3387Fax: +353 21 496-8744
Opening Hours: Week days 9.30-5.30, Sundays 12.30-5.00. Admission €5/4/3 (correct 2013-11-18)
Daily Services: Midday Daily Eucharist
The site where St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral stands dates from the earliest Christian period in Ireland and is one of the few ecclesiastical sites in this country that is of international significance. It has been a place of worship since the arrival of Saint Fin Barre in 606 AD. The present Cathedral is understood to be the eleventh such building and has been the seat of the Bishop of Cork since the Synod of Rathbreasail in 1111AD.
Early churches/monasteries on the site were eventually replaced by stone built structures. Relatively little is known about the medieval Cathedral although entries in the chapter minute books give some idea of its size and appearance. A square stone font, five carved Romanesque heads, and a carved doorway (known as the Dean’s Gate and now inserted in the south boundary wall) still survive.
The medieval cathedral had fallen into such despair by 1735 it was largely demolished and replaced by a small plain classical, Georgian building which incorporated the tower of the previous cathedral. This building was demolished entirely in 1865 because it was felt to be inadequate to the dignity of a cathedral and the size of the diocese.
William Burges was appointed architect for a new cathedral in 1862, after a competition for which there were 63 entries. Among the requirements of the competition was that the cost of the building should not exceed £15,000. Burges was criticised by other architects because the cost of the towers, spires and carving were not included in his estimate however Burges argued that ‘future generations’ would continue the work of building the Cathedral using his plans. The concept and designs were approved and the foundation stone was laid in 1865 by Bishop John Gregg. The Cathedral was consecrated on St. Andrew’s Day, 1870.
Burges drew up an overall iconographic scheme for the cathedral and maintained control over all the stages of the work. He also designed all the sculpture, mosaics, furniture and metalwork. Thus the Cathedral preserves a remarkable unity of style throughout and is widely considered to be the most coherent example of a neo-Gothic building in Western Europe.
The Cathedral’s primary function today is as a place of worship. It serves the immediate needs of the Church of Ireland community locally and in the dioceses of Cork, Cloyne and Ross, but also those of the wider community in the locality and city. Its contribution to the life of the city includes its role as a tourist attraction, the musical education of over forty children and young people through the Choral Foundation, a venue for arts related activities such as concerts and exhibitions and a resource for school pupils and college students in the city and beyond. In recent years the Cathedral has adopted an open and progressive approach to engaging with all communities in the city and promotes an ‘open door’ policy to all.
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