Saint Fin Barre's Cathedral

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Saint Finbarre's Cathedral)
Jump to: navigation, search
Saint Fin Barre's Cathedral, Cork
51°53′40″N 8°28′50″W / 51.8944°N 08.48064°W / 51.8944; -08.48064Coordinates: 51°53′40″N 8°28′50″W / 51.8944°N 08.48064°W / 51.8944; -08.48064
Country Ireland
Denomination Church of Ireland
Dedication Saint Fin Barre
Architect(s) William Burges
Style Gothic revival
Groundbreaking 1865+
Completed 1879
Diocese Diocese of Cork, Cloyne and Ross
Province Province of Dublin
Bishop(s) The Right Reverend Paul Colton
Dean The Very Revd Nigel Dunne
Precentor The Dean of Cloyne
Canon Chancellor The Dean of Ross
Archdeacon The Venerable Adrian Wilkinson
Director of music Mr Malcolm Wisener GRSM FTCL ARCO
Organist(s) Mr J Taylor MA ARCO

Saint Fin Barre's Cathedral, (Irish: Ardeaglais Naomh Fionnbarra) is a cathedral of the Church of Ireland in Cork city, Ireland. It is in the ecclesiastical province of Dublin. Begun in 1863, the cathedral was the first major work of the Victorian architect William Burges. Previously the cathedral of the Diocese of Cork, it is now one of three cathedrals in the Diocese of Cork, Cloyne and Ross.

History and Architecture[edit]

The competition for the building of St Fin Barre's was held in 1862. In February 1863, Burges was declared the winner.[1] His diary records his delight; "Got Cork!", whilst the cathedral accounts record the payment of the winning prize sum of £100.[2] Building work took seven years before Divine Service was held in the cathedral in 1870. Building, carving and decoration continued into the 20th century, long after Burges's death in 1881.[3]

The style of the building is Early French, Burges's favoured period and a style he continued to favour throughout his life, choosing it for his own home, The Tower House, in Kensington. The stipulated price for construction was to be £15,000,[4] a sum vastly exceeded. The total cost came to well over £100,000.[5] Burges was unconcerned; his own words, in his letter of January 1877 to the Bishop of Cork, sum up his approach, a viewpoint which made him a very expensive architect to employ: "(In the future) the whole affair will be on its trial and, the elements of time and cost being forgotten, the result only will be looked at. The great questions will then be, first, is this work beautiful and, secondly, have those to whom it was entrusted, done it with all their heart and all their ability."[6]

As was usual, Burges oversaw all aspects of the design, including the architecture of the building, the extensive statuary, the stained glass and the internal decoration. The result is "undoubtedly Burges's greatest work in ecclesiastical architecture"[7] with an interior that is "overwhelming and intoxicating. To enter St. Fin Barre's Cathedral is an experience unparalled in Ireland and rarely matched anywhere."[8]

List of Deans of Cork[edit]

The organ[edit]

The Organ was built in 1870 by William Hill of London, with 3 manuals and 40 stops. The action on the Great was some form of pneumatic action (possibly Barker lever) on the Great, and tracker for the other two manuals.

The instrument was then overhauled in 1889 by the Cork Organ-building firm, T.W. Megahy, who added three new stops, though it is not entirely clear which these were. It was at this time that the Organ was moved from the West Gallery down to a Pit in the North Transept, where it still sits today.

The next major overhaul of the instrument was in 1906 by Hele & Co. of Plymouth, who added a fourth Manual (the Solo). By this stage, the action of the organ was entirely pneumatic.

Major work was done to the organ was in 1965–66, when J. W. Walker & Sons Ltd of London rebuilt the instrument. They overhauled the soundboards, installed a new console with electropneumatic action, and lowered the pitch to 'standard' C = 523./3. The organ then had 4 manuals, 56 stops, and 3012 pipes.

It was this instrument that Trevor Crowe was engaged to reconstruct and expand, starting in 2010. The organ was supplemented with a west gallery Nave division and major tonal enhancements to the main instrument, including a full length 32' extension to the Pedal Trombone. Of great significance is a revised layout which enables the previously buried organ to sing unimpeded into the body of the cathedral.

As the instrument now stands, it is perfectly judged for the building. Trevor Crowe's extensive improvements to the layout have succeeded in overcoming the obstacles of its subterranean location. Whereas before, a listener could be forgiven for thinking that they were hearing a recording, on account of the reflected nature of its sound, the organ now speaks with great clarity and warmth right throughout the cathedral.

The west end Nave division is especially useful for accompanying congregational hymns, but also adds even more éclat and immediacy to repertoire requiring another finely voiced principal chorus, of which the organ has several. The Pedal's 32' Subbass, now augmented by a Quint 10 2/3 adds especial grandeur to these. In character, the large variety of flute ranks and orchestral reeds is delightful, with the presence of two undulating strings - gentle Vox Angelica in the Swell division and more incisive Voix Céleste in the Solo - a rare luxury for an Irish organ. Most of the Choir Organ is housed in an enclosure attached to the console, the lid of which can be raised or lowered electrically by the organist. This highly innovative arrangement allows the division to serve as a romantic English Choir, a symphonic and classical French Positif, a German Rückpositiv, and an effective continuo organ. The chorus reeds, on all divisions, are of special interest, as they cover a huge spectrum of timbre, from the rich English style warmth of the Solo division's Posaunes, through more open and fiery Great reeds and Pedal Ophicleide (available at 16', 8' and 4' pitches) underpinned by the gravitas of 32' and 16' Trombones, right up to a superb Tuba on the Solo division.

At 88 speaking stops, it is now the largest organ on the island of Ireland, and can safely be described as one of the truly great organs of Europe.


  • William Love 1677–1698
  • Thomas Hollister 1698?–1703?
  • William Toole 1703–1711
  • Edward Broadway 1712–1720
  • William Smyth 1720–1777
  • Henry De La Maine 1782–1796
  • James Roche 1797–1811
  • James Brealsford Stephens 1811–1860
  • John Christopher Marks 1860–1903
  • William George Everleigh 1903–1922[9]
  • Jonathan Thomas Horne 1922–1977
  • Andrew Paul Padmore 1977–1984 (afterwards organist of St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast)
  • Colin Gerald Nicholls 1984–2007
  • Malcolm Wisener 2007–present (previously organist at St Bartholomew's Church, Dublin)

Assistant organists[edit]


See also[edit]

Burges's gift to the cathedral


  1. ^ The Cathedral of St Fin Barre at Cork, page 19
  2. ^ The Cathedral of St Fin Barre at Cork, page 19
  3. ^ The Cathedral of St Fin Barre at Cork, page 19
  4. ^ The Cathedral of St Fin Barre at Cork, page 28
  5. ^ The Cathedral of St Fin Barre at Cork
  6. ^ Burges's letter to the Bishop of Cork: 8 January 1877 - reproduced as the Preface to The Cathedral of Saint Fin Barre at Cork
  7. ^ The Cathedral of St Fin Barre at Cork, page 19
  8. ^ The Cathedral of Saint Fin Barre at Cork: page 110
  9. ^ Dictionary of organs and organists. First Edition. 1912. p. 272


External links[edit]