Diocese of Limerick Home Page Heritage Project Home Page Index Search Help  

   St John's   History
Conservation Project

For a century and a half St. John’s Cathedral has been at the centre of diocesan life in Limerick. Bishops have been consecrated, installed and laid to rest there. Presidents, Taoisigh, Cardinals and leaders of Church and State have graced this place with their presence. Priests have been ordained there. The Bishop’s chair or Cathedra is there, as are the stalls of the Cathedral Chapter. Side by side with the big moments, the Cathedral has also seen the ordinary and the every day. Spiritual journeys have begun here with baptism and ended here with a commendation for God’s mercy. Faithful love has been pledged before this Altar and children have come here in succeeding generations to be Confirmed and to receive First Communion. Memories have been made here and lives have been touched and changed through time spent within its walls. It is God’s house and our home.

Bishop John Ryan laid its foundation stone in 1856 a mere decade after the Great Famine. The people of the Diocese enthusiastically contributed to its construction, so much so that a project, which began as a parish one, soon became a diocesan one. Friends in the United States, Scotland and England also responded most generously to the initiative that was taken. The names of all those who contributed in the Parishes around the Diocese at that time are still to be found in the local newspapers of the age. A marked quality of the fundraising activity of 1850s was the generosity of the non-Catholic people of the Diocese. Their ecumenical concern and support was quite remarkable.

St. John’s Cathedral has been restored almost every 25 years since it was built. Its consecration in 1894 by Cardinal Logue was preceded by major refurbishment. It claimed more attention in the mid 1920s and received a major work of restoration in the early 1950s under the direction of Bishop Paddy O’Neill. Again in 1977, under Bishop Jeremiah Newman the Cathedral was restored through the generosity of a fundraising campaign throughout the Diocese. Once Again, just a quarter of a century later Bishop Donal Murray has pioneered this work of renovation. The Cathedral has also been blessed by the energy and enthusiasm of the priests of the Cathedral, and in particular, it’s administrators. From Joseph Bourke in the 1850s to Denis Mullane at present administrators of the Cathedral have devoted much time and energy to this project.

Stone, stained glass, a marble Altar, a soaring rood screen, all these elements, which surround you today, are evidence of the faith of the people of the past. They now stand restored before us and bear witness to our faith in the future.

To review the work that needed to be carried out during the recent conservation project, click Conservation Work.

To view photographs of St John's Cathedral as it now appears, click St John's Cathedral Photo Gallery.

+John Fleming
Bishop of Killala

Heritage Project Home | Back to Top