St. Patrick’s Cathedral  in Armagh, Northern Ireland is the seat of the Catholic Archbishop of Armagh, Primate of All Ireland. It was built in stages between 1840 and 1904 to serve as the Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Armagh, the original medieval cathedral of St. Patrick have been transferred to the Protestant Church in Ireland at the time of the Irish Reformation.

The cathedral stands on a hill, which makes his Anglican counterpart.

Cathedral Primate Crolly

The construction of a Catholic cathedral in Armagh was a task imbued with great historical and political symbolism. Armagh the primatial seat of Ireland and its ancient ecclesiastical capital Darst Patrick had established its Great Church. But since the Irish Reformation under Henry VIII had no Catholic archbishop resident there. Since the seventeenth century, had the majority Catholic population in Ireland living under the rigors of criminal laws, a number of provisions that were designed, in the words of the Anglo-Irish historian Lecky, “to deprive Catholics of all civilian lives, to reduce them to a state of extreme, brutal ignorance, and to distance them from the ground. ” As a result, while to some extent tolerated, the public practice of Catholicism was almost completely extinguished and all the churches exist at the time of the adoption of laws ceded to the established church. Thus, in the late eighteenth century, there were some Catholic churches and cathedrals no existing in Ireland for a large Catholic population. After Catholic Emancipation in 1829, the need to build churches and cathedrals to serve this population became critically apparent. The lack of a Catholic presence in the primatial city of Armagh, in particular, became a popular cause of discontent among the emerging Catholic episcopate, clergy and congregation.

Archbishop William Crolly was appointed to the Catholic See Armagh in 1835 and almost immediately sought permission to reside in Armagh; the first Catholic Primate to do so since the Reformation. After having settled in the town, he put then to seek a site for a new Catholic cathedral. The main difficulty in constructing a Catholic Cathedral in Armagh was that the country Armagh city and suburbs consisted almost entirely of “see the country,” the mensal property or demesne of the Protestant Primate and thus would not be available for the Catholic Episcopate to purchase. A dramatic location on top of a hill on the outskirts of the city, however, had been sold to the Earl of Dartrey. According to the ninth century Book of Armagh, this hill was prominent in the St. Patrick had reunited DOE spared at the site of the high altar of his Cathedral during his inauguration in around 445 AD with his mother.

A building committee was established and a weekly penny collection taken for construction. The architect was to be Thomas Duff of Newry who had designed the cathedral there and also the Pro-Cathedral iDundalk.

He designed a cross-building, with a nave, aisles, trancepts, cows, and run; a large square central tower and two smaller ones on the western front flanking the main door, and flush with the walls of time, similar to York Minster. At Dundalk, the style was a highly romanticized and noticeably un-historicist version of Perpendicular Gothic of the sixteenth century. The foundation stone was laid on St. Patrick’s Day 1838 but as a result of the Irish Famine work stalled in 1847 with the basics and aisles only partially complete.

Cathedral of choice Dixon and McGettigan

Archbishop Crolly was himself a victim of starvation, contracting cholera while tending to famine-ravaged Drogheda and die on Good Friday 1849.Hans successor, Archbishop Paul Cullen abandoned the project and moved primatial See Drogheda. It was only when Cullen was translated into Dublin and Archbishop Joseph Dixon was appointed to the See Armagh who work resumed in 1854. At this time, Duff was dead and there had been a revolution in ecclesiastical architectural taste of Ireland. After the visit to Ireland of AWN Pugin, the perpendicular Gothic was the style of the sixteenth century had fallen from favor and the former medieval Gothic becoming more popular. The architect James Joseph McCarthy, a self-proclaimed “student” of Pugin, was appointed to oversee the completion of the cathedral.

Its position as the architect for the new cathedral was quite difficult for the, at the time of McCarthy’s appointment, the walls of Duff’s Perpendicular building was already 10 meters (34 feet) high and had reached the top of the aisles. McCarthy does not want to continue to build the now outmoded Perpendicular Gothic Duff. His solution was to start building a Decorated Gothic cathedral of the fourteenth century on top of the alleged sixteenth century foundations and walls. Decorated Gothic tracery was introduced into the existing window openings and in the west, he reduced the size of the window and traceried-in an arcade of apostolic statues. The pitch of the roof was raised Duff a full 6.1 meters (20 feet), adding significantly to the external impact of the building and allows the insertion of the clerestory and Triforium to the interior. A sense of drama added to the transepts by adding asymerical spired towers at its ends and the addition of bow windows to their ends. The most dramatic change is made to Duff plans were desertion of the three fairly squat tower designed by Duff to reach a height of 39 meters (128 feet). Instead, two broken towers crowned with spiers of 64 meters (210 feet) high were built in the western part.

Dixon died back in 1866 before the completion of the cathedral and once again the project was abandoned in his older successor Archbishop Michael Kieran. It therefore fell to Kieran’s successor, Archbishop Daniel McGettigan to complete the building. After completion of the spiers, McGettigan turned his attention to the interior. Here, to capitalize on the increased height at the expense of external design studies, McCarthy constructed an elaborately carved arched hammer-beam ceiling with carved angels concluding the hammer beams and stone saint consoles. He constructed a Caen stenreredos that spans the entire wall at the east end and filled with carvings from the Life of the Virgin in an arcade carved and crocketted pinnacles and centered with a carved canopy over the statue of the Madonna and child. Archbishop McGettigan authorized painted murals that adorn the walls of the Lady Chapel and stencilling applied onto its roof. The cathedral was consecrated August 24, 1873

After the inauguration, Primate McGettigan continued to make improvements as funds and his fall would allow. In 1875 he was ordered Stations of the Cross from Herbert & Co. Liverpool and installed the large 33-stop organ by William Telford. In 1879, seven light east windows filled with stained glass of Earley & Powell in Dublin and work began on seven terrace stairs to the plaza in front of the west end. Finally, in 1884, a sexton’s lodge was constructed at the bottom of the stairs. When Archbishop McGettigan died in December 1887 after several years of declining health, the cathedral had seen the passage of five successive archbishops and expenditure for the unprecedented sum of over £ 70,000.

Cathedral Cardinal Logue

McGettigan’s successor as Archbishop Michael Logue, longest Archbishop of Armagh. An acquaintance learned priest, Logue was appointed to the College of Cardinals by Leo XIII in 1893, became the first Archbishop of Armagh appointed to the College in its history. When he came up to the finished Cathedral in Armagh, Logue was far from impressed. He complained about the “poor and beggerly elements” in decor and noted that “visitors who had turned to the cathedral filled with admiration for the beauty of its exterior was … unpleasantly surprised, not to say disedified in comparative shabbiness and poverty interior”. On August 20, 1899 Cardinal Logue issued a pastoral letter entitled “The National Cathedral” urged the Irish people and its diaspora to supply sufficient funds to beautify the interior of the cathedral. A collection Bazaar was organized in 1900 and now by the architect William Hague in Dublin (who had inherited much of McCarthy’s practice at his death) was appointed to make plans.

The bazaar raised over £ 30,000 and Logue traveled to Italy with his architect to visit the marble quarries and artisan workshops, selecting materials and craftsmen to perform the Hague plans. Haag died shortly after designing the first of its extension: a marble rood 9.1 meters (30 feet) wide and 11 meters (36 feet) high.

He was replaced by George Coppinger Ashlin, former partner Pugin’s son. At the appointment Ashlin identified almost immediately a large structural problems with the roof at McCarthy aisles and a new groined ceiling Bath stone was constructed. In combination with repairs due to the towers that had not been designed to take the weight of McCarthy’s spiers, used a large part of the funds raised by the bazaar. Yet Cardinal Logue pressed ahead with lavish plans. Ashlin designed an altar carved from Carrara marble, Lapis Lazuli and Jasper to sit at the Hague’s rood and Italian sculptor Cesare Aureli was commissioned to cut a head in  alto relievo  of Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper.

Ashlin closed the crossing by constructing two side screens of marble statues, 9.1 meters (30 feet) wide, across the north and south transepts and sculptures in marble communion rails inlaid with  Breccia di S Votaleat Nave.

The  Cathedra  throne is projected in three divisions in the second bay on the north side with canopied niches, has crockets and pinnacles and crowned with a marble spire. In the middle of the throne was carved with the arms of Cardinal in statuary marble. The entire intersection was coated with inlaid marble, constructed in squares with quatrefoil panels and cross and centered on a  pietra dura  representation of the Cardinal’s armorial bearings.

An elaborate pulpit was constructed in the southwest pier of intersection.Consists of statuary marble inlaid with rare colored marbles, his plane was octagonal, with angular niches containing statues of the Evangelists, St. Patrick and St. Brigid, the canopies above the statues and carved groined.The panels between the statues filled with inlaid traceries. The canopy of the pulpit, rises to a height of nearly 36 ft. Was carved in Austrian oak painted white and inlaid with colored enamel and gold leaf.

Behind the rood, McCarthy reredos remained intact, but its lower parts enriched with marble inlay in a diaper pattern with  fleur de lis  in a vibrant variety of colored Italian marbles. A new Lady altar and the tabernacle was constructed before the altar wall of the marble statue. The antependium contained three relief groups, labor prominent Roman sculptor Michele Trepisciano (1860-1913) shows “The Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple”, “assumption” and “Coronation of the Virgin” inset into separate panels with cusped heads, and columns  Breccia di Seravezza Antica  and Breccia Corallina  bullets. The tabernacle, inlaid with Corsican Jasper, was in the form of a cube topped with a roof made of fish scales carvings and ended with two large marble statues standing angels.

In the north and south of the Lady Chapel, was Side chapels erected to St. Joseph (North) and St Brigid (South), close the aisles in the East.

In the south transept, was a sumptuous altar erected to the Sacred Heart.Finally, to the west end, McCarthy wooden gallery replaced with a three-bay marble screen of white marble supported the quatrefoil pillars  Portas Suppose  marble and inlaid with  Brocatello  marble. The organ itself was built to fit the new enlarged space and a new Austrian oak organ case was designed and built.

The most striking and composed by Cardinal Logue’s legacy to the cathedral, however, was the system of mosaics he was commissioned to decorate every inch of blank wall in the Cathedral. Considerable thought was given to how best to deal with the decoration of the walls of the building. Metropolitan McGettigan had completed a system of painted murals and stencilling of the walls, but as a result of Armagh humid climate, these had died within a few years of completion. T therefore decided to adopt a mosaic decorative order, with the initial high costs paid by the future save on repainting a mural systems. The material used was Italian ceramics of different colors in the cube-shaped cubes of glass slabs for plated parts to prevent tarnishing, and for increased gloss. The sections were compiled in two workshops in London and carefully glued, face down, on paper strips. These were then applied to a fresh coating of special cement on the walls in a manner similar to the hanging of wallpaper.

To complete its scheme of decoration, Cardinal Logue ordered Italian painter Oreste Amici (1872-1930), who had been trained at the Institute of Fine Arts in Rome, painting the picture of McCarthy’s hammer beam ceiling in an Italian style .The ceiling is painted in oil, the current shadow primer adopted by a soft terracotta to harmonize with the color of the wall mosaic.

With works closed, stirred cathedral solemnly rededicated July 20, 1904.

Reformulation: the Cathedral Cardinals Conway and O’Fiaich

The cathedral remained much as Cardinal Logue left it until the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council called for work to be carried out on the high altar. William Cardinal Conway was appointed to the See Armagh in 1963 even though he had served as senior Irish participants in the Second vatikankoncilietsedan start. He returned to Armagh Archbishop keen to introduce the reforms proposed by the Council. The reforms of the liturgy requires greater visibility and Assembly participation in Catholic services and for a time it had felt that 1904 marble works at the intersection had prevented large-scale ritual in the cathedral. Conway then inaugurated an architectural competition to adapt shrine Armagh cathedral to the new requirements and to allow greater freedom of movement and visibility around the shrine area. Several candidates submitted designs and controversial all of them suggested to remove substantially all of Ashlin marble works at the intersection. Conway chose the winning design by Liam McCormick (1916-1996), even if the work is started on the reorganization of the intersection until the death of Cardinal Conway in 1977.

It then fell to Tomas Cardinal O’Fiaich to complete the works. As completed, they were as radical as they were divisive. The entirety of marble in the intersection were removed and much of it destroyed, including The Hague’s rood and Ashlin’s high altar, Cathedra, the altar and the inlaid marble floor.The pulpit was dismantled and broken up and the side altar to Saints Brigid and St. Joseph were removed and relocated in other churches. Only McCarthy Caen stone removal reredos survived, although their lower parts, enriched in 1904 with Carrara marble, dismantled and flowers wallpaper attached to the lower part of the reredos in their place. New furnishings carved from rough hewn Wicklow granite was installed at the intersection and the sanctuary area was expanded beyond the line of the former rood and was taken up by several feet and dressed in polished Wicklow granite. Critic had been 1904 system design and foreign materials that result in the reorganization stressed its native roots. The new altar, ambo and tabernacle was carved by a sculptor Dundalk, Peter McTigue and the tent is manufactured in Kilkenny. Carpets that replaces the marble floor was woven in Killybegs. To replace the rood cross, was a huge sculpture entitled “Tree of Life” mission from Imogen Stuart, the German-born Irish skulptör.Katedralen re rededicated June 13, 1982 when the relics of St. Malachy placed in the new altar.

The work was met with almost unanimous shock and outrage. “Neither the quality of the replacements or skill craft can hide the total alienation of the new work from the spirit and meaning which was McCarthy’s ecclesiological and architectural inspiration. In this setting, these modern intrusions appear unjustified and irrelevant, “complained the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society (UAHS, 1992). Architecture historian Joan Sheehy wrote on reformulation as “compensation … of a fine late Gothic Revival cows with pieces of granite and a tabernacle which looks like a microwave.”

Restoration and renovation: the Cathedral by Cardinal Brady

Even the decorative style cathedral thus changed significantly in 1982, had the building has not undergone any major construction since the exchange of time-ceiling in 1904. In 2002, the need for major structural repairs to the building has become apparent. As a result of the construction methods walls and wear of the roof had moist damaged much of mosaic and painted decorations had blunted with smoke and dust. A large part of the exterior stonework had been destroyed and the twin spired towers had become unstable. A pin-committee to monitor these great works to secure the building decided that the time was ripe to examine the much criticized sanctuary. The firm Rooney & McConville was commissioned to design the sanctuary area. McCormick’s vilified seized deleted in its entirety and the sanctuary area re floor with Italian porcelain tiles from Armatile mimic (with little success) inlaid marble floor of 1904 that had survived virtually intact for McCormick granite podium.marmorgolvet is thus finally destroyed in the process. A new altar and ambo of Tunisian limestone was installed.

The altar was inspired by early-Irish cross and the image of Christ (Crucified, Risen, Return to Glory), flanked by the Apostles, on three sides. The fourth side visible from the main part of the church showing Our Lord with four Irish saints: St. Patrick St. Malachy, St. Brigid and St. Oliver Plunkett .Two pair of brass gates that had survived from 1899 marble rood was replicated several times, welded, topped with a completely convincing poor quality gothic crown and made into a new full brass screen behind the high altar, restoring a separate Lady Chapel area as the culmination of an ambulatory around the shrine area. Tabernacle removed to Southern nave which in turn is shielded by another brass screens and Cathedra placed on a podium directly behind the new altar. A Evangelarium created in the south tower (now converted to a shop), and the baptistry was restored at the base of the north tower. The base of the McCarthy reredos was restored in 1904 and inlaid marbles revealed. At the time of the rededication of the cathedral May 25, 2003 more than £ 6 million had been used.

The Crossing designed by Rooney & McConville, 2003

Cathedral today

Daily Mass is held Monday through Saturday at 10:00. On Sunday, Mass is celebrated at 9:00, 11:00 and 05:30, with a 7:00 Vigil Mass on Saturday evening. Lots holy day celebrated at 09:00 and 11:00. Confessions are usually heard before and after the Saturday evening vigil mass.


  • Cardinal William Conway
  • Cardinal John D’Alton
  • Tomas Cardinal Ó Fiaich
  • Michael Cardinal Logue
  • William Cardinal Crolly


The organ in Armagh cathedral was originally built by the famous organ builder William Telford 1875. In 1987, the organ was rebuilt, enlarged and tonal changes of the Irish Organ Company Ltd. who also gave a new townhouse drawknob console. The renovation was designed by the late John Holmes with the Cathedral Organist Baron George Memory as a consultant.All the old pipes and individual cases were not restored and retained. The organ is now part of the English, French Cavaille-Coll and European style, the dominant sound is French. The organ currently has four manuals and 58 stops.


Positif:  Gelind gedeckt 8, Bell Gamba 8, Singend Principal 4, Koppelflute 4, Nasard 2 2/3, Octavin two, Tierce a 3/5, Petit Cymbale III, Cromorne 8, Zymbalstern, anxious (adjustable), Octave, Essential positif, Swell to positif, Bombarde to positif,

Large:  Double Diapason 16, Open Diapason 8, Gamba 8, Bourdon 8, Principal 4, flute Ouverte 4, 2 2/3 twelfth, fifteenth 2, Fourniture V Cymbale II (a total crazy screaming deal,) 16 Bombarde, Trompette 8 , Clairon 4, Swell to Great, Positif Great, Positif Sub-Octave to Great,

Swell:  Open Diapason 8, Stopped Diapason 8, Salicional 8, Unda Maris 8, Principal 4, Doublette 2, Plein Jeu III, Basson 16, Cornopean 8, Clarion 4, anxious (adjustable), Octave, Sub-Octave,

Bombarde:  Flute Harmonique 8, Voce Umana 8 + 8, Carillon III Orlos 8, Trompeta Magna 16 (TC from Trompeta Réal 8), Trompeta Réal 8, Clarin 4 (From Trompeta Réal 8), Campana Bella (an octave of clocks),

Pedal  Gravissima 32, Principal 16, Violonbasse 16, Bourdon 16, Double Diapason (large) Violone 8 (From Violonbasse 16), Gedecktbass 8, Principal 4, Doublette 2, Grosse Fourniture III, Carillon II, Bombarde 16 Basson 16 (Swell) trumpet 8 (from Bombarde 16), Clarion 4 (from Bombarde 16), Orlos 4 (from Orlos 8, Bombarde) Positif pedaling, great to Pedal, Swell to Pedal, Bombarde pedaling, large and pedal Pistons Together.


The organist of St. Patrick’s Cathedral for over 50 years, Baron George Memory, born in Belgium in 1924. He has a large repertoire of Bach, Handel, Mozart and various French composers, and is a most accomplished pianist and composer.


  • Buildings Co. Armagh  by CEB Brett, published by the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society 1999
  • St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh  . Tomas Ó Fiaich. The Irish Heritage Series: 58, Eason & Son Ltd, Dublin, in 1987.