From ancient Irish places of worship to some very modern sanctums, there are a wealth of beautiful cathedrals in Ireland worth visiting. Here you can try your hand at ringing bells across a city, investigate crypts, and hear mass sung every day. Faith is a cornerstone of Irish life and these cathedrals hold a key to discovering more.
1 - Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral, Cork
There have been a number of churches at this location dedicated to St Finbarr but this cathedral is a magnificent example of French-Gothic architecture. It was started in 1863 and designed by the Victorian architect William Burges (who also designed Cardiff Castle) and it can be seen from many places across the city. The ceiling is highly embellished with images of all angels and saints looking down on the congregation above high stained glass windows which give golden light to the nave below. If visiting Cork during the Choral Festival, it’s worth booking inexpensive tickets to hear international choirs competing accompanied by the impressive organ. It’s an experience not to be missed.
2 - Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin
Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin is also known as the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. Once you step into the Cathedral grounds you’ll feel like you’re on a movie set. Indeed ‘The Tudors’ is among the many tv series filmed at Christ Church Cathedral, and you can see some of the costumes on display. Groups can book a visit to the Belfry by prior arrangement, and climb the 80 steps to the roof of the South Transept, see the view over Dublin City and even ring the bells. This is an experience like no other.
3 - Galway Cathedral
Youngest of Europe’s great stone Cathedrals, Galway Cathedral was dedicated on 15 August 1965. The dome reaches 44.2 metres and can be seen from afar across Galway City. The rose window and mosaics echo the tradition of Christian art, but the dome and pillars reflect a Renaissance style. The Galway Cathedral organ recitals take place every Summer and come highly recommended.
4 - St Canice’s Cathedral, Kilkenny
The Round Tower at St Canice’s Cathedral is the oldest standing structure in Kilkenny City and one of only two round towers that people can climb. It offers great views of the city below (weather permitting). People have been worshipping at this site for over 800 years and the Cathedral itself includes two stained glass windows designed by the renowned artist, Harry Clarke. Many of the tombstones are unique to the area of the Cathedral and Kilkenny and the See Chair of the Bishop of Ossory can bee seen inside the Cathedral.
5 - St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin
Unique in Ireland, St Patrick’s Cathedral is the only place in Ireland where Matins and Evensong are sung by the church scholars every day. When the scholars are on holidays, visiting choirs maintain the worship of the Cathedral. Check their website for the exact times of worship on the day that you visit and attending worship is free. The combination of the stunning architecture and the ethereally sung music make for an unforgettable visit.
6 - St Colman’s Cathedral, Cobh
High up in the tower of St Colman’s Cathedral in Cobh is an unusual instrument called a carillon, and it’s the only one of its kind in the Republic of Ireland. It comprises 49 bells and is accessed by over 200 steps. It is normally played using an automatic system, but the carillonneur plays the bells using a piano-like console on special occasions. Overlooking the port of Cobh, it most certainly was the last place of worship that the passengers on the Titanic saw as they left port on their fateful journey. Visits are free of charge, although donations are always appreciated. Bring your walking shoes as it’s high on a hill above the coach park, but it’s a very enjoyable stroll through the streets of Cobh
15 May 2018
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