The Cathedral is located at the junction of Shandon Street, Gerald Griffin Street, Cathedral Road and Roman Street in the
historic north side of Cork City. It is the episcopal see of the Catholic Dioceses of Cork and Ross. It has hosted the funerals
of Irish freedom fighters at the beginning of the century, the ordinations of priests and bishops to minister throughout the
world, and the marriages of countless couples.
The building began its life in 1799. After a disastrous fire in 1820, the work of restoration of the Cathedral was entrusted
to George R. Pain. The Cathedral as we know it owes much to his vision, with the exception of the East end, which was developed
in 1964 by J.R. Boyd-Barrett.
The Cathedral was extensively renovated and reordered in 1996.
The Cathedral's limestone and sandstone belfry reaches into the sky and calls Cork people to pray as they travel in and
out of the nearby city centre. The exterior (including the roof) has been restored and repaired; the interior has been remodelled
to facilitate contemporary worshipping needs. The new design retains the best of the old and integrates it with the spirit,
culture and faith of the people of Cork.
One of the interesting features is the reincorporation of 30 John Hogan statues in pine. They were commissioned by Bishop
John Murphy in 1822 from the young Hogan for the reconstructed Cathedral -- after much of the 1808 building was burned in
an 1820 fire. Hogan went on to become one of Europe's greatest neoclassical sculptors. These carvings, which went missing
during building work in 1964, and thought to be lost forever, were discovered in the crypt. They were restored and placed
in the blind clerestory of the nave.
History of the Cathedral
The Catholic Cathedral of Cork has almost 200 years of history to tell.
The first Cathedral built here was the vision of Bishop Francis Moylan who was Bishop of Cork from 1787-1815, truly turbulent
times in Irish history. Like many of his predecessors, Bishop Moylan spent time on the continent as a priest during the Penal
Laws. When he took up his office as Bishop of Cork there was no Cathedral, no seminary, no Catholic educational establishment
of note. The people who lived on the northern edges of the city attended Mass in local Mass houses and later in a chapel near
the North Presentation Convent.
When the Cathedral was opened in 1808, Nano Nagle's Presentation Sisters were teaching and feeding the poor in the streets
of Cork; the French invasions in support of the United Irishmen were talked about - and opposed by Bishop Moylan; the Christian
Brothers were opening their first schools in Cork, and Daniel O'Connell was arguing the case for Catholic Emanicipation in
the British Parliament. The Penal Laws were fading fast and Catholic Cork was confident and strident in religious matters
as well as other spheres of life.
The Cathedral was opened in 1808 as the parish church of the single parish then on the northside of the city - hence its
local name: the North Chapel.
The first priest to be ordained in the Cathedral was John England. Fr. England was ardently opposed to interference by
the British Parliament in matters religious and frequently pronounced on the topic from the pulpit of the North Chapel. He
drew the wrath of the government establishment in Cork, who complained to the Bishop, John Murphy, who in turn removed Fr.
England from the Cathedral.
Fr. England was later to become one of the first priests to minister to Catholic emigrants in the developing southern
states of the US. He was appointed the first bishop of the then extensive Diocese of Charlestown (in today's South Carolina)
But even in the US he was not to escape controversy. Catholic newcomers to the south had to contend with resentment and
religious bigotry on all sides. To counteract the damaging portrayals of Catholics in society, Fr. England began to publish
a newsletter, and then a newspaper, outlining and explaining true Catholic teaching. His Catholic Miscellany was the first
Catholic newspaper in America and he is credited with being the founder of the Catholic Press in America. The New Catholic
Miscellany is the weekly Catholic newspaper of the Diocese of Charlestown.
Soon after John England began his new life in the US, in June 1820, the heat of the political climate struck the North
Chapel when it was maliciously burned during the night.
Bishop John Murphy, one of the famous brewing family, wasted no time in calling a meeting to help restore the Cathedral.
The people of Cork generously rallied to the call.
The task of rebuilding was given to architect George Pain, who later designed Blackrock Castle, the Courthouse and St.
Patrick's Church. The interior of the present day Cathedral owes much to his creative gifts and much of his work survives
The 1960s saw a major expansion of population around the Cathedral as well as dramatic changes in the way the liturgy
was celebrated after the Second Vatican Council. Bishop Cornelius Lucey commissined an extension of the Cathedral which included
the removal of the old sanctuary and the building of a new one.
The modifications in 1960 never satisfactorily integrated the changes into the Cathedral building. This incompleteness,
coupled with decay in the roof and other structures, led to the need for a complete restoration and refurbishment of the Cathedral
which was begun in 1995 under the direction of Bishop Micheal Murphy.
The Cathedral was rededicated on September 26th, 1996