St Patrick's Cathedral, Armagh (Church of Ireland)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Cathedral Church of St Patrick, Armagh
Cathedral of the Diocese of Armagh and Metropolitan Cathedral of the United Provinces of Armagh and Tuam
Armagh Cathedral (Church of Ireland).jpg
The Cathedral Church of St Patrick, Armagh is located in Northern Ireland
The Cathedral Church of St Patrick, Armagh
The Cathedral Church of St Patrick, Armagh
54°20′52″N 6°39′22″W / 54.3478°N 6.6562°W / 54.3478; -6.6562Coordinates: 54°20′52″N 6°39′22″W / 54.3478°N 6.6562°W / 54.3478; -6.6562
CountryNorthern Ireland
DenominationChurch of Ireland
Previous denominationRoman Catholic
FoundedAD 445
Founder(s)Saint Patrick
DedicationSt Patrick
ConsecratedAD 445
ProvinceProvince of Armagh
DioceseDiocese of Armagh
ArchbishopThe Most Reverend John McDowell
DeanThe Very Reverend Shane Forster
PrecentorThe Reverend Canon Norman Porteus
ChancellorThe Reverend Canon Drew Dawson
ArchdeaconThe Venerable Terry Scott (Archdeacon of Armagh)
Organist(s)Dr Stephen Timpany
TreasurerThe Reverend Canon Bill Adair
St Patrick's Cathedral sign, November 2009

St Patrick's Cathedral, Armagh (Irish: Ardeaglais Phádraig, Ard Mhacha) is a cathedral of the Church of Ireland, located in Armagh, Northern Ireland. The origins of the site are as a 5th-century Irish stone monastery, founded by St Patrick. Throughout the Middle Ages, the cathedral was the seat of the Archbishop of Armagh, the premier see of the Catholic Church in Ireland and formed a significant part of the culture of Christianity in Gaelic Ireland. With the 16th-century Reformation in Ireland, the cathedral came under the Anglican Church of Ireland, with Englishman, George Cromer, acting as the first Archbishop of Armagh in the Church of Ireland. It is also the cathedral of the Church of Ireland Diocese of Armagh.[1] Following Catholic Emancipation, Irish Catholics started construction in 1838 of a new Roman Catholic St Patrick's Cathedral in Armagh.


The origins of the cathedral are related to the construction in 445 of a stone church on the Druim Saileach (Willow Ridge) hill by St Patrick, around which a monastic community developed.[2] The church was historically the centre of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland. The cathedral and its assets were appropriated by the state church, called the Church of Ireland, as part of the Protestant Reformation in Ireland. The English government under King Henry VIII of England transferred the assets. It has remained in Anglican hands since the reign of Queen Elizabeth I of England. A Roman Catholic cathedral, also called St Patrick's Cathedral, was built on a neighbouring hill in the nineteenth century. Cordial relations exist between the two cathedral chapters.

The church itself has been destroyed and rebuilt 17 times. The edifice was renovated and restored under Dean Eoghan McCawell (1505–1549) at the start of the sixteenth century having suffered from a devastating fire in 1511 and being in poor shape. Soon after his death the cathedral was described by Lord Chancellor Cusack as ‘one of the fairest and best churches in Ireland’.[3] Again it was substantially restored between 1834 and 1840 by Archbishop Lord John George Beresford and the architect Lewis Nockalls Cottingham. The fabric remains that of the mediaeval building but much restored. While Cottingham was heavy-handed in his restoration, the researches of T. G. F. Patterson and Janet Myles in the late twentieth century have shown the restoration to have been notably antiquarian for its time. The tracery of the nave windows in particular are careful restorations as is the copy of the font. The capital decoration of the two westernmost pillars of the nave (either side of the West Door internal porch) are mediaeval as are the bulk of the external gargoyle carvings (some resited) of the parapet of the Eastern Arm. Cottingham's intention of retaining the richly cusped West Door with flanking canopied niches was over-ruled. Subsequent restorations have more radically altered the internal proportions of the mediaeval building, proportions which Cottingham had retained.

Many other Celtic and mediaeval carvings are to be seen within the cathedral which is also rich in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century sculpture. There are works by Francis Leggatt Chantrey, Louis-François Roubiliac, John Michael Rysbrack, Carlo Marochetti and others.

The Choral Foundation, dating from the Culdees, and refounded as the Royal College of King Charles of Vicars Choral and Organist in the cathedral of Armagh, continues to the present. There are generally a dozen Gentlemen of the Lay Vicars Choral and sixteen boy choristers.

The Maundy Money was distributed at the cathedral in 2008: a plaque in the south aisle commemorates this event.[4]

Notable burials[edit]


  • 1634 Richard Galway
  • 1661 John Hawkshaw
  • 1695 Robert Hodge
  • 1711 William Toole
  • 1722 Samuel Bettridge
  • 1752 John Woffington
  • 1759 Robert Barnes
  • 1776 Langrishe Doyle
  • 1782 Richard Langdon
  • 1794 John Clarke Whitfield
  • 1797 John Jones
  • 1816 Frederick Horncastle
  • 1823 Robert Turle
  • 1872 Thomas Marks
  • 1917 G. H. P. Hewson
  • 1920 Edred Chaundy
  • 1935 Reginald West
  • 1951 Frederick Carter
  • 1966 Christopher Phelps
  • 1968 Martin White
  • 2002–2015 Theo Saunders
  • 2015–present Stephen Timpany

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Funerary Monuments & Memorials in St Patrick's Cathedral, Armagh" Curl, J.S: Whitstable; Historical Publications; 2013 ISBN 978-1-905286-48-5
  2. ^ "The Cathedrals of the Church of Ireland" Day, J.G.F./ Patton, H.E. p21: London, S.P.C.K., 1932
  3. ^ The Church Among Two Nations. Published in Early Modern History (1500–1700), Features, Issue 1 (Spring 1998), Medieval History (pre-1500), Volume 6
  4. ^ "Funary Monuments & Memorials in St Patrick's Cathedral, Armagh" Curl, J.S. p76: Whitstable; Historical Publications; 2013 ISBN 978-1-905286-48-5

External links[edit]