While the American states were destroying its citizens and buildings in the senseless Civil War, Ireland experienced an unprecedented building boom that resulted in castles and cathedrals that endured and are now top attractions. According to ancient Irish lure, Saint Fin Barre founded a monastery on this site in the 7th Century. A settlement grew around the re religious center and became known as Cork.
Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral (in the Irish language, Ardeaglais Naomh Fionnbarra) construction began in 1863, and was the first major work of Victorian architect William Burges. Construction took seven years before Divine Service was held in 1870, and Burges died 11 years later. Construction, carving, and decoration continued into the 20th Century. Although Burges exceeded the £17,000 construction budget—which topped £100,000—he donated the “resurrection angel” (known locally as “goldy angel”) to the Cathedral. Perhaps because he vastly exceeded the construction project he donated this beautiful statue.
Many TripAdvisor reviews detail the cathedral’s interior. I can’t improve on those, though I enjoyed observing the “resurrection angel” and ornate carvings. Something caught my attention, the Wizard of Oz flying monkey-like gargoyles so typical of gothic architecture. Gargoyles serve as rain spouts, to prevent water pouring off steep roofs from washing away or into the stone walls. Perhaps these hellish creatures had a religious aspect, reminding worshipers what may await them and that the exterior was far less impressive than inside. Saint Fin Barre’s is possibly the most impressive cathedral I visited in Ireland. Take advantage of the guided tour. There were too many details for me to document, and I simply enjoyed the journey back in time. The €5 entrance fee is used to preserve and restore this magnificent structure, and additional donations are appreciated.
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