Nostalgia: A look back at Cork's iconic St Fin Barre’s Cathedral through the decades

Nostalgia: A look back at Cork's iconic St Fin Barre’s Cathedral through the decades

Confirmation at St Fin Barre's Cathedral, by Dr. Perdue, April 1978.

This week marked the 150th anniversary of the consecration of one of Ireland's most iconic buildings -St Fin Barre’s Cathedral.

A small number of people attended a special service at the Cathedral on Monday to mark the occasion.

Designed by William Burges and consecrated in 1870, the present Cathedral lies on a site where Christian worship has been offered since the 7th century.

A very early photograph, showing John Gregg, Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross, laying the foundation stone of St Fin Barre's Cathedral on 12 January 1865. The famous Victorian architect William Burges designed the cathedral, which was consecrated in 1870. The spires and towers were not completed until 1879.
A very early photograph, showing John Gregg, Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross, laying the foundation stone of St Fin Barre's Cathedral on 12 January 1865. The famous Victorian architect William Burges designed the cathedral, which was consecrated in 1870. The spires and towers were not completed until 1879.

Burges had been appointed architect for the new Cathedral in 1862, after a competition for which there were 63 entries.

The Cathedral's limestone spires are over 140 years, completed in October 1879.

Participation in the service on Monday was limited to the Church of Ireland Bishop, Dr Paul Colton, the Dean, the Very Reverend Nigel Dunne, and the Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Joe Kavanagh, and his wife, Lady Mayoress, Stephanie Kavanagh, who represented the citizens of the city.

1999: Bishop of Cork & Ross Dr John Buckley and the Very Rev Dr Michael Jackson, Dean of Cork, on top of Saint Fin Barre's Cathedral checking the restoration of the golden angel. Picture: Mark Kelleher
1999: Bishop of Cork & Ross Dr John Buckley and the Very Rev Dr Michael Jackson, Dean of Cork, on top of Saint Fin Barre's Cathedral checking the restoration of the golden angel. Picture: Mark Kelleher

Speaking at the service, the Lord Mayor lauded the Cathedral as an "iconic and historic building" and also thanked Bishop Colton for the "courtesy and inclusivity" which he said has always been "second to none".

In the ceremony, which was live-streamed, Rev Dunne read a message which had been sent in by President Michael D. Higgins.

"The history of St Fin Barre’s is a rich and enduring one, rooted in the founding of a monastery by St Finbarr many centuries ago in Cork city. 

"Today it is an integral part of Cork’s story and a profound connection to the very different city in which St Fin Barre’s was originally conceived and constructed.

2000: The Church of Ireland Bishop of Cork Paul Colton (centre) outside St Fin Barre's Cathedral in Cork, at the ordination of new priests Daniel Nuzum (left) and Peter Massey.
2000: The Church of Ireland Bishop of Cork Paul Colton (centre) outside St Fin Barre's Cathedral in Cork, at the ordination of new priests Daniel Nuzum (left) and Peter Massey.

"Like the city itself, St Fin Barre’s has evolved and changed since its early foundations in the 7th century - it has however continued to provide an enduring space of peace, comfort and worship for generations of Cork residents and the many visitors that it welcomes through its doors each year," the President said.

"I thank all those who worked to ensure St Fin Barre’s Cathedral endures as a place of inclusion, solace and reassurance," the President's message continued. 

Kate Lordan, with some of her pictures on show at the Multi Media Arts Exhibition by local artists at St Fin Barre's Cathedral, Cork, 1999. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Kate Lordan, with some of her pictures on show at the Multi Media Arts Exhibition by local artists at St Fin Barre's Cathedral, Cork, 1999. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

In a message by Taoiseach Micheál Martin he hailed St Fin Barre's as "one of the treasures of Cork". 

"This Cathedral, magnificently restored by the Church of Ireland community and its friends, is not only a fitting testament to the Saint that founded our city, but more importantly to the Christian tradition of prayer and reflection at this site since the 7th century," he said.

"This is a building that I and thousands of fellow Corkonians have grown up with.

Taking part in the Evening Echo Mini Marathon in 1999 in aid of St Fin Barre's Cathedral, Aimee Dadswell (left) and Jenny Booth. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Taking part in the Evening Echo Mini Marathon in 1999 in aid of St Fin Barre's Cathedral, Aimee Dadswell (left) and Jenny Booth. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

"It is a constant presence on the banks of the south channel of the Lee, adjacent to Elizabeth Fort and the ancient heart of the medieval city and has been a reassuring feature of the city's landscape for generations.

"It is part of the DNA of our city," the Taoiseach's message continued. 

Messages from other figures within the Church of Ireland were also read during the service.

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