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St. Mary's Cathedral, Killarney

St. Mary's Cathedral in Killarney is considered one of Ireland’s most notable Gothic Revival churches of the nineteenth century. Designed by Augustus Willy Pugin, construction began in 1842 but was interrupted by the arrival of the Great Famine, during which time the partially built cathedral was used as a shelter for the sick and dying. Construction didn't resume until five years later and while the church was consecrated in 1855, construction wasn't completed until 1912 when the tower and elegant spire were added. 

Funding the Cathedral

Funds-gathering for the new church begain in 1828, when Killarney priest Thomas Joseph O' Sullivan opened a "subscription list" -- a pool to which parishioners could donate or contribute a small amount regularly.

  • Lord Kenmare, a prominent Kerry landowner, was one of the main benefactors.
  • Local hero Daniel O'Connell, known as the Liberator for his work to emancipate Catholics, was also on the list of contributors
  • By 1840, the fund was almost 900 pounds, and the project began.

A traditional church with a unique location

This Roman Catholic Church in County Kerry is cruciform with a nave and aisles, two large transepts, and rose windows. The west end is considered very Irish -- with three tall lancet windows and a very low entrance door. Some experts consider the nave of St. Mary’s Cathedral too narrow, but its width was based upon that of other medieval churches of the time in England and Ireland. Its location is also considered unusual since it stands in the middle of a field, as is customary for a priory, instead of in the middle of the town of Killarney.

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