The History of St Peter & St Paul’s Church, Cork City


The Church of Saints Peter and Paul’s is located just off St Patrick’s Street in the centre of Cork City. It is regarded as one of the finest examples of 19th century neo-Gothic architecture in Ireland.  Its predecessor, built in 1786 and known as Carey’s Lane Chapel, was the parish Church for the entire centre of Cork City.  In the mid-19th century, the ever increasing Catholic congregation of the city necessitated the construction of the Church that one sees today.  The present Church was designed by the London architect Edward Welby Pugin in collaboration with his Irish colleague George Ashlin.  Its foundation stone was laid on August 15th 1859 and it was opened for worship in 1866.

Saints Peter and Paul’s contains numerous features that require detailed study.

The main altar, consecrated in 1874,  is made from 36 tons of Sicilian marble. It contains numerous references to the Passion of Jesus Christ, such as the angels supporting the altar table which hold instruments used in His Crucifixion.  The apse within which the main altar is located is highly decorated, including blue and gold ceiling panels and stained glass windows of the saints, including the Patron Saints of the Church, Saints Peter and Paul.   The  pulpit in the nave is carved from Russian oak and decorated with scenes from the Christ’s childhood while the confessionals, also in Russian oak, were carved by craftsmen in Leuven and Cork.  The overall message conveyed is that, on entering a Church, one is stepping outside the bounds of ordinary earthly existence and entering an ante-chamber of heaven.