RICHARD HURLEY & ASSOCIATES ARCHITECTS
St. Mary's and St Anne's Cathedral, Cork
The building began its life in 1799. After a disastrous fire in 1820, the work of restoration of the Cathedral was entrusted to George R. Pain. The Cathedral as we know it owes much to his vision, with the exception of the East end, which was developed in 1964 by J.R. Boyd-Barrett.
The cathederal is, for all the world, the bishop's church. The cathedral may be seen as the church among churches. Its ascribed definition as the bishop's seat requires that it reflects environmentally a sense of solemnity and the evocation of that continuity of apostolic succession, as well as accessibility for worship designed with particular Episcopal rites in mind, the ordination of priests and deacons, Mass of the Chrism, Holy Week celebrations and adult Baptism and Confirmation. The cathedral is a seat of culture as well as cult. It is a place where great music may be performed and where drama proportionate to man's true stature, may be enacted.
Since Vatican II, the interior space of the cathedral may no longer be experienced as static. When the interior cathedral space is perceived as dynamic, the enactment of cult must be considered simultaneous from the side of the faithful as participents. Not only in cult, but in culture, has the need to reshape audience space become more apparent. The proscenium arch has given way to the "thrust" stage, in order that the audience become more effectively involved in dramatic enactment. At worship the faithful must feel themselves God's Holy People. They become a worshiping whole as they interact with one another and the celebrant, surrounding the altar on three sides facing each other across a 'thrust" sanctuary.
The cathedral is also the people's church. There they find a gathering place to which they come as affirmation of the human community they represent. Within the cathedral prescincts are particular places of sacramental worship and devotion: the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, rooms of reconciliation, the Baptismal font of immersion and the reservation of the Holy Oils. The cathedral stands as both affirmation and reflection of the bishop's role as a pastor to God's Holy People. He, the bishop, is charged with making the cathedral a reflection of the Vatican II directives concerning the liturgy as the people's environment. The cathedral should be accessible to all its people, whatever their conditions. The old, the young, the handicapped should find welcome there.
There are two major factors involved in the Cathedral of St. Mary and St. Anne project - Liturgical renewal and the restoration of the fabric. The integration of liturgy, culture, and architecture, together with heritage and patrimony lay at the heart of renewal which required a delicate balance between the old and the new. The function of the cathedral in our time is one of both symbol and sign. The cathedral, because it contains the seat of the Bishop - the cathedra, is an important symbol of unity. Thus the refurbishment and restoration of St. Mary's presented a problem of symbolising a spiritual meaning, of developing the function into a plan which would reveal its own identity.
The building has been restored, refurbished and repaired. Defective areas of the beautiful ceiling have been removed and renewed. Repairs have been made to the roof and tower and the entire fabric of the Cathedral was cleaned down and restored as new. Two finishing materials have been used - stone and wood.
The interior restoration has respected the patrimony of the building's heritage. Many fine pieces have been restored and given new life in the new plan. Paint and plaster have been removed from stone and wood, revealing formerly hidden beautiful materials. The magnificent timber columns in the nave are a fine example of this work. The Bishop's chair, the stalls, the old pulpit, the old altar and reredos, the Baptismal Font, the Shrine of Blessed Thadeaus McCarthy, the Hogan Sculptures; were all subject to Planning Permission restrictions. The retention and relocation of these and many other artefacts will cement the link with the past, and the present with the future.
Some practical consequences flowed from this:
A wide and spacious sanctuary finished white limestone accommodates all liturgical ceremonies, including the Chrism Mass, Sunday and Weekday celebrations, funerals, weddings, ordinations and confirmations etc. The altar, designed by the architect defines the entire space of the Cathedral ad the place of celebration of the Eucharist. It binds it together - it is both the gathering point and place of outreach of the Cathedral. The location of the new sunken Baptismal area, inside the great West Door, but within the body of the Cathedral, is a dramatic intervention and a reminder of entry into the Community of the Church. The use of the existing Baptismal Font is a strong link with the history of the Cathederal.
During the work, 30 carved oak statues by John Hogan which went missing during building work in 1964, and thought to be lost forever, were discovered in the crypt. They were restored and placed in the blind clerestory of the nave.
Stone Altar, Ambo: Designed by Richard Hurley & Associates, Carved by Tom Glendon
Paintings: Patrick Pye
Stained Glass: James Scanlon
Metalwork: Peter Donovan
Sculptures & Shrines: Ken Thompson
Timber Furniture: Eric Pearce