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St. Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick

Limerick City’s oldest church, St. Mary's gets surprisingly few visitors for such a beautiful building. St. Mary's Anglican Cathedral began as a palace, and some parts of the original building still stand. 


The cathedral was founded by King Donal Mor O’Brien, who was also responsible for the cathedral at Cashel and Holy Cross Abbey, Tipperary. It was restored several times during the Victorian era. 


A mixture of Romanesque and Gothic styles, the majority of the present day structure survives from the restoration of the building in 1580 by Bishop Folan. The interior includes beautiful stained glass windows, as well as ornate wood carvings on the misericords (support shelves) of the choir stalls These misericords are the only remaining pre-Elizabethan carvings in Ireland. The 21 carvings represent popular middle-age symbols, including

  • a unicorn goat
  • a griffin
  • a sphinx
  • a wild boar
  • a swan
  • an eagle
  • a cockatrice holding its tail
  • the Lion of Judah with a dragon
  • an angel the head of Henry IV
  • a dragon biting its tail
  • two antelopes with intertwined necks

The main altar consists of an impressive 13-foot long stone slab.


St. Mary's Cathedral. Image by Martin Roell

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