St Patrick's Cathedral

Armagh, United Kingdom

St Patrick's Cathedral, Armagh the origins from the 5th century Irish stone monastery, founded by St. Patrick. Throughout the Middle Ages, the cathedral was the seat of the Archbishop of Armagh, the premier see of the Catholic Church in Ireland and formed a significant part of the culture of Christianity in Gaelic Ireland. With the advent of the 16th century and the introduction of Protestantism into Ireland, the cathedral came under the Anglican Church of Ireland, with Englishman, George Cromer, acting as the first Anglican Archbishop of Armagh in the Church of Ireland and remains under their control to this day. It is also the cathedral of the Anglican Diocese of Armagh. In the 19th century, following Catholic Emancipation, Irish Catholics founded a new cathedral in Armagh, also named for St. Patrick: the two should not be confused.

The origins of the cathedral are related to the construction in 445 of a stone church on the Druim Saileach (Willow Ridge) hill by St. Patrick, around which a monastic community developed. The church was historically the centre of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland. The cathedral and its assets were appropriated by the state church, called the Church of Ireland, as part of the Protestant Reformation in Ireland. The English government under King Henry VIII of England transferred the assets. It has remained in Anglican hands since the reign of Queen Elizabeth I of England. A Roman Catholic cathedral, also called St Patrick's Cathedral, was built on a neighbouring hill in the nineteenth century. Cordial relations exist between the two cathedral chapters.

The church itself has been destroyed and rebuilt 17 times. The edifice was renovated and restored under Dean Eoghan McCawell (1505–1549) at the start of the sixteenth century having suffered from a devastating fire in 1511 and being in poor shape. Soon after his death the cathedral was described by Lord Chancellor Cusack as ‘one of the fairest and best churches in Ireland’.[3] Again it was substantially restored between 1834 and 1840 by Archbishop Lord John George Beresford and the architect Lewis Nockalls Cottingham. The fabric remains that of the mediaeval building but much restored. While Cottingham was heavy-handed in his restoration, the researches of T. G. F. Patterson and Janet Myles in the late twentieth century have shown the restoration to have been notably antiquarian for its time. The tracery of the nave windows in particular are careful restorations as is the copy of the font. The capital decoration of the two westernmost pillars of the nave (either side of the West Door internal porch) are mediaeval as are the bulk of the external gargoyle carvings (some resited) of the parapet of the Eastern Arm. Cottingham's intention of retaining the richly-cusped West Door with flanking canopied niches was over-ruled. Subsequent restorations have more radically altered the internal proportions of the mediaeval building, proportions which Cottingham had retained.

Many other Celtic and mediaeval carvings are to be seen within the cathedral which is also rich in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century sculpture. There are works by Francis Leggatt Chantrey, Louis-François Roubiliac, John Michael Rysbrack, Carlo Marochetti and others.



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Founded: 13th century
Category: Religious sites in United Kingdom


4.8/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Darragh O'Neill (9 months ago)
Them preists give a fantastic mass. Praise the lord jesus.
Claire Kerr (9 months ago)
One of Armagh's two historic Cathedrals. St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Cathedral has to been seen in person to admire it's splendour.
Chris W (11 months ago)
Unexpectedly amazing...the stain glass windows, the artistry, the architecture...just splendid. You read it was finished in the early 20th century and think it must be fairly plain and modern looking....nope. It felt like we were in a much older church. Well worth the stop!
Mark Gunn (2 years ago)
Impressive, in a commanding location above the town. Not at the level of say Ely cathedral or other older cathedrals, but still worth checking out.
Joe McNeill (2 years ago)
Beautiful and Majestic Cathedral with an imposing elevated presence towering over the historical ecclesiastical capital of Ireland which is the City of Armagh.
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