St. Colman's Cathedral, Roman Catholic, Cobh, Co. Cork
Enable JavaScript in order to use Google Maps.
Loading data...


The Cathedral of Saint Colman is a large, elaborately detailed neo-Gothic building. It is prominently sited overlooking Cork harbour and visible for quite a distance. Local people are generally very proud of it and tourists often climb the steep hill to admire and photograph it. The historian Emmet Larkin has called it "the most ambitious building project undertaken by the Church in nineteenth-century Ireland", and Frederick O'Dwyer states that it was "certainly the most costly Irish ecclesiastical building of the Victorian era". Cobh Cathedral probably enjoys the most advantageous position of any Irish cathedral. Because of its superb hillside site, it dominates the quay in a most imposing way, standing proudly clear of all neighbouring buildings. The exterior detail is intricate, elegant and well proportioned in a way typical of French sophistication. Its south front faces out to the sea, and viewed from the town, it bristles with flying buttresses, gargoyles, spirelets and pinnacles, giving the impression of a great Bucentaur sailing in state along the horizon.

Cobh Cathedral is in Early French Decorated Gothic style and is one the best examples of the Gothic Revival in 19th century Ireland. The architects were E.W. Pugin, George Ashlin and Thomas Coleman. The clerk of works was Charles Guilfoyle Doran. The ground plan is in the form of a Latin cross with long arm extending from east to west. The cathedral was begun in 1868 and finally completed in 1915, a total of 47 years. The foundation stone was laid on 30 September 1868 by Bishop William Keane. The roof was completed in 1879 and that same year the first Mass was celebrated on June 15 by Bishop John McCarthy. Building of the spire, the last of the major external works, was completed in March 1915.
It consists of an aisled nave of seven bays with triforium and clerestory, transepts with eastern chapels, an apsidal chancel, and a tower and spire at the south-west corner of the nave. The cathedral measures 64m long and 36.5m at the transepts. Great rose windows set within high pointed arches and flanked by octagonal turrets adorn the west front and the transepts.
The basic building material is blue Dalkey granite with cut stone dressing of Mallow limestone. Newry granite is used in the tower, with red Aberdeen granite in the pillars of the west front and the piers at the entrance of the nave. The roof is blue Belgian slate. Bath stone and Portland stone are used to line the inner walls. Red Midleton marble is used in the shrines and in the first confessionals on both aisles; the remaining confessionals are of red Aberdeen granite.

The nave is separated from the aisles by piers of red Fermoy marble resting on bases of white Italian marble and plinths of Liscarroll limestone. The piers have richly sculpted capitals of foliage and human heads and support the tall slender clustered columns of the triforium executed in red Aberdeen granite; they in turn support the spinging of the arches of the clerestory windows and the vaulted roof of Californian pitchpine. The Stations of the Cross are of Caen stone. The clustered respond columns at the end of the north aisle are of black Kilkenny marble.

The committee decided in January 1867 to hold an architectural competition and George Goldie (1828-1887), J. J. McCarthy (1817-1882), and the architectural partnership of E.W. Pugin (1834-1875) and G.C. Ashlin (1837-1921) were invited to submit plans.
This competition took place in 1859 and E.W. Puginís office was awarded the commission. E.W. Pugin eldest son of the famous Gothic Revival architect (A.W. N.) Augustus Pugin (1812-1852), had taken over his fatherís practice after his death, but found Irish commissions difficult to organise from his base in England. George Goldie (who designed Sligo Cathedral) and J. J. McCarthy (who designed St Patrick's Cathedral, Armagh, Derry Cathedral, Monaghan Cathedral and Thurles Cathedral) were invited to submit designs, but both spoiled their chances by suggesting amendments to the conditions of the competition.
In 1859, therefore, he decided to take on his young Irish pupil George Ashlin, as a partner, to run the Irish side of the business. The partnership lasted from 1859 until August 1868 dissolving "while the firm was at the height of their negotiations concerning St. Colmanís Cathedral".

After the split, Ashlin took over their unfinished commissions. E.W. Pugin died suddenly in June 1875, aged only 42; Ashlin, however, lived to supervise the building to completion. By 1864 it had been decided that the proposed building would function not only as a parish church but as a cathedral for the Diocese of Cloyne. The original thirteenth century cathedral of the diocese, situated in the small east Cork town of Cloyne, was owned by the Church of Ireland. Queenstown, as the largest town in the diocese, seemed a better location for the Catholic Cathedral. The building would be dedicated to the diocesan founder, St. Colman (522 - 600).


Saturday: 18:00
Sunday: 8:00, 10:00, 12:00, 19:00
Holydays Eves of Holydays: 18:00, 8:00, 10:00, 12:00, 20:00
Monday-Friday: 8:00, 10:00 (During Lent:20:00), First Fridays: 20:00




An Stor Tourist Hostel, Midleton within 10.9 km
Cork International Hostel within 14.6 km
Dempsey's Hostel, Kinsale within 22.1 km
Kinlay House Hostel, Cork within 13.7 km
Sheila's Cork Hostel within 13.1 km

The Altar
The Organ
Getting closer...
Pure Gothic