The President and Taoiseach have hailed the deep connection between the people of Cork and the landmark St Fin Barre’s Cathedral during a special service to mark its 150th anniversary.
Covid-19 restrictions forced the scaling back of ceremonies to mark the historic milestone of the iconic building but during a short service from the cathedral this morning, attended by just a handful of people and streamed online, messages from President Michael D Higgins and Taoiseach Micheál Martin were read out.
Mr Higgins said the historic Anglican building has been an integral part of Cork’s story for centuries and has a profound connection with the city.
That connection since it was founded and conceived by St Finbarr, has, like the city itself, evolved and changed, he said.
“It (the cathedral) has however continued to provide an enduring space of peace, comfort and worship for generations of Cork residents and many visitors welcomed through its doors each year,” he said.
“I pay tribute to all those who work to ensure that St Fin Barre’s Cathedral endures as a place of inclusion, solace and reassurance.” Mr Martin, who grew up almost in the shadow of St Fin Barre’s in nearby Turner’s Cross, described the building as one of the “city’s treasures” and said it’s part of the city’s DNA.
He spoke of the cathedral’s memorial to the 400 men from the diocese of Cork, Cloyne and Ross who died during World War 1 and said it spoke to the complex shared history of the island, and of how the cathedral itself is shared by the people of Cork.
Lord Mayor @Joekavanaghcork and Lady Mayoress Stephanie Kavanagh were delighted to today join in the celebrations @SFB_Cork— Cork City Council #StayHome #StaySafe (@corkcitycouncil) November 30, 2020
➡️Help @SFB_Cork mark the150th anniversary of its opening and consecration by posting a photo of the cathedral and using #SFB150!@DrPaulColton @nidunne pic.twitter.com/apBl0sJdMe
He said the city is fortunate to have “a living monument of faith at its heart” and he paid tribute to the city’s Church of Ireland community for its generous contribution towards the maintenance and restoration of “this house of faith” over the years.
Participation in the service on St Andrew’s Day was limited to the Church of Ireland Bishop, Dr Paul Colton, the Dean, the Very Reverend Nigel Dunne, and the Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Joe Kavanagh, and his wife, Lady Mayoress, Stephanie Kavanagh, who represented the citizens of the city.
Mr Kavanagh paid tribute to the courtesy and inclusivity shown by Bishop Colton and his predecessors over the years to the holder of the office of the Lord Mayor, especially each St Patrick’s Day, when the mayor begins the day with a service at the cathedral.
He also paid tribute to the Anglican community for its role in helping to keep alive the historical significance of St Finbarr.
Messages of support and congratulations from the Church of Ireland Archbishops of Dublin and Armagh were also read during the service.
Truly beautiful performance of CV Stanford’s Te Deum Laudamus in Bb by the choir, organ & trumpeters at St Fin Barre’s Cathedral just now to conclude a dignified ceremony marking 150th anniversary of the cathedral by @DrPaulColton @nidunne @Joekavanaghcork at @SFB_Cork #SFB150 pic.twitter.com/SxIl94UbPV— Daniel Nuzum #HoldFirm (@danielnuzum) November 30, 2020
Bishop Fintan Gavin, Bishop of Cork and Ross, sent a message of support and greetings from around the world have also been received in recent weeks, including from the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Archbishops of York, Wales, Hong Kong, Egypt, Burundi, Southern Africa and Canada, and the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America.
Just a handful of others attended the ceremony, with the lay vicars of the cathedral, and the cathedral music department with trumpeters, providing music, including the hymn, Te Deum Laudamus, which dates to the early centuries of Chrsitianity, and which was set to music by Irish composer, Charles Villiers Stanford.
The cathedral organ - the largest in Ireland - and trumpeters provided music for the opening procession, the Heraldic Fanfare and Marcia from Widor’s Third Organ Symphony, with the Hymne d’action de grâce Te Deum by Langlais, closing the ceremony.
The site of St Fin Barre’s Cathedral has been a place of worship since the seventh century, when St Finbarr arrived at the spot and called it “his place of resurrection”.
The current building was designed by William Burges and consecrated in 1870. It is also one of the city’s most visited buildings.
While Covid-19 restrictions curtailed the celebrations, Bishop Colton and Dean Dunne have invited people to post photographs of the cathedral on social media using the hashtag #SFB150.