The Friends of St. Colman's Cathedral online
This website is dedicated to promoting greater awareness of the cultural and architectural importance of St. Colman's, Cathedral, Cobh.
Begun in 1867 and completed in 1919, the Cathedral was one of Edward W. Pugin and George Ashlin's most important Irish commission. It is one of the finest examples of ecclesiastical archictecture in the Gothic Revival style in Ireland. It was built at a time when leading architects had absorbed the principles of pointed architecture laid down by A.W.N. Pugin (1812-1852), the father of E.W. Pugin and father-in-law of George Ashlin.
St. Colman's, named after the patron saint of the diocese St. Colman Mac Leinin, was inspired by the great cathedrals of medieval France such as Chartres, Laon and Amiens. Its unique interior is a pure and harmonious example of what a neo-Gothic cathedral should be. The Bath stone cladding of the walls permits an "extraordinary wealth of figurative sculpture (recalling Rheims Cathedral) so that altars merge into an overall decorative scheme, perceived like apparitions through dimly lit vistas". St. Colman's Cathedral is the only Irish Catholic Victorian cathedral to preserve its interior fully intact.
"There were many other major exponents of High Victorian gothic: men such as Alfred Waterhouse (1830-1905), whose Town Hall, Manchester (1868-77), is a masterpiece of civic gothic, and Pugin's eldest son, Edward Welby Pugin (1834-75), whose ornate French gothic cathedral at Cobh (from 1868) in southern Ireland, designed with his partner George Coppinger Ashlin (1837-1921), rises unforgettably above the river approach to Cork."
Chris Brooks, The Gothic Revival, London, Phaidon Press, 1999, p. 336.
For contemporaries, it was a magnificent symbol of the Catholic Church's risorgimento and the last glimpse of Ireland for those who set sail from Queenstown for the New World.
The Friends of St Colman's Cathedral is a local conservationist group based in Cobh (Queenstown), Co. Cork. Its main objective is to encourage the general public to take an active interest in the conservation of this great religious and cultural monument to the hopes and aspirations of past generations so as to ensure its integrity for future generations. As a Domus Dei and Fanum of profound sacredness and beauty, the Friends are deeply committed to the welfare and preservation of this perennial lesson in stone of the faith of our fathers.
For the past number of years, the Friends of St Colman's Cathedral have very closely followed a proposed re-ordering of the Cathedral sanctuary. They are concerned that the proposed changes will adversely affect its architectural integrity by introducing fixtures in a modern style completely alien to that of the building which irreversibly impact on its architectural patrimony.
The Friends are deeply grateful to the people of Cobh, and of the Diocese of Cloyne, for their overwhelming support in addressing this issue at a time when greater public awareness of our heritage renders the proposed re-ordering of the Cathedral sanctuary particularly insensitive.
On 19 July 2005, McCutcheon Mulcahy Planning Consultants, on behalf of the Trustees of St Colman's Cathedral (Bishop John Magee, Fr. Tim Fouhy and Mr. Tom Cavanagh of Fermoy) applied for planning permission to initiate a re-modelling of the sanctuary after Plans and Drawings prepared by Professor Cahal O'Neill of Dublin.
Fr. Daniel Murphy, BA, BD, sought to justify the changes in his document Liturgical Requirements.
For a point by point critique of 'Liturgical Requirements' Please click here.
Some 212 objections to the plans were lodged with Cobh Town Council. It was interesting to note that Professor O'Neill's plans drew objections from all of the major heritage bodies in Ireland, including the Georgian Society, An Taisce, the Government's Department of the Environment, the heritage officer of Cork County Council, and the Pugin Society in England. Nevertheless, on 5 September 2005, on foot of a report prepared by Mr. Des Heffernan, a temporary planning officer, an order granting permission for the proposed re-ordering of the Cathedral sanctuary was signed by the Cobh Town Clerk, Mr. Paraig Lynch.
In response to this unexpected development, the Friends of St Colman's Cathedral have initiated a series of legal actions to appeal the decision of Cobh Town Council to An Bord Pleanála. At a time when greater public awareness of our heritage renders the proposed re-ordering particularly insensitive, the Friends wish to thank the people of Cobh, and of the diocese of Cloyne, for the generous support and encouragement they continue to receive in order to finance this important initiative.