If you are looking for a place to visit in Galway City that combines history, culture and beauty, you should not miss visiting Galway Cathedral. This impressive building is not only a place of worship, but also a showcase of art, architecture and heritage.
Galway Cathedral, officially known as the Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven and Saint Nicholas, is the youngest of Europe’s great stone cathedrals. It was built on the site of the old city prison, which was demolished in 1957. The construction began in 1958 and was completed in 1965, under the vision of Bishop Michael Browne and the design of architect John J. Robinson. The cathedral was consecrated on 15 August 1965, the feast day of the Assumption of Mary, by Cardinal Richard Cushing of Boston. President Éamon de Valera lit the sanctuary candle and attended the ceremony along with four archbishops and thousands of people.
The cathedral is dedicated to Our Lady Assumed into Heaven and Saint Nicholas, the patron saint of sailors and merchants. The latter reflects the maritime history of Galway, which was once a thriving port city and a hub of trade and commerce. The cathedral also serves as the mother church of the diocese of Galway and Kilmacduagh, which covers most of County Galway and parts of County Clare.
Galway Cathedral is a remarkable example of Renaissance Revival architecture, with influences from Romanesque and Gothic styles. It is built almost entirely of local limestone, which gives it a warm and solid appearance. The cathedral has a cruciform plan, with a nave, transepts, choir and apse. The most striking feature is the octagonal dome, which rises to a height of 44.2 metres (145 feet) and dominates the city skyline. The dome is supported by eight massive pillars, each decorated with a mosaic of one of the eight beatitudes.
The interior of the cathedral is richly adorned with various artworks, such as statues, mosaics, stained glass windows, paintings and carvings. Some of the highlights include:
- The statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary by Imogen Stuart, made of limewood and painted in blue and gold. It stands on a pedestal in front of the high altar, surrounded by angels.
- The crucifixion mosaic by Patrick Pollen, covering the entire wall behind the high altar. It depicts Christ on the cross, flanked by Mary and John, with scenes from his life and passion below.
- The rose windows by George Walsh, located on the west and east ends of the cathedral. They feature images of Christ, Mary and saints, as well as symbols of Galway’s history and culture.
- The pipe organ by J.W. Walker & Sons, installed in 1966. It has four manuals, 75 stops and over 4000 pipes. It is considered one of the finest organs in Ireland.
- The carvings by Seamus Murphy, Oisín Kelly and others, representing various themes such as the seven sacraments, the four evangelists, the twelve apostles and the Irish saints.
- The paintings by Charles Lamb, Sean Keating and others, depicting scenes from the Old and New Testaments, as well as local landscapes and legends.
Galway Cathedral is open to visitors every day. Admission is free, but donations are welcome to support the maintenance of the building. Guided tours are available on request for groups of 10 or more people. You can also attend one of the daily masses or join in the prayer services.
The cathedral is located on Gaol Road, near the Salmon Weir Bridge and the River Corrib. It is within walking distance from many attractions in Galway City Centre, such as Eyre Square, Shop Street, Spanish Arch and Quay Street.
Galway Cathedral is a must-see for anyone who appreciates history, art and spirituality. It is a place where you can admire the beauty of human creativity, learn about the heritage of Galway and Ireland, and experience a sense of peace and reverence. Whether you are a local or a visitor, you will find something to inspire you at this magnificent cathedral.
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