A special appeal has been launched to help solve a centuries-old mystery linked to one of Cork’s most iconic landmarks.
Famous for telling different times on its four-faced clock tower, there is also uncertainty over the exact date the historic church at Shandon was built and consecrated.
Now, in a bid to mark the 300-year anniversary of St Anne’s Church at Shandon, with its famous Shandon bells, Church of Ireland Bishop, the Right Reverend Dr Paul Colton, has issued a special appeal for anyone with specific information about the dates to come forward.
He will launch the initiative, The Shandon Mystery, when he visits the parish to preside at Sunday service.
He said he is appealing to Irish people in general, but to Cork people specifically, wherever they are in the world, to help the parish to try to discover the exact dates of the building and the date of the consecration, or opening, of the church.
“The problem is the parish records were lost in the fire in the public records office 100 years ago in June 1922. We need help,” he said.
“We have looked at all sorts of records, spoken with parishioners, some local people, and spoken to some archivists and historians.
“We have checked dates on parish silver, on plaques and on the font in the Church.
“There appears to be no foundation stone and no memorial stone commemorating the consecration.
“We would like to know these dates and that is what we mean by ‘The Shandon Mystery’.”
He said he and the local Church of Ireland community are very conscious that to the people of Cork and for Irish people in general, Saint Anne’s, Shandon, is much more than a parish church.
“It is a potent, evocative and emotive symbol of Cork around which the people of Cork rally, unite and identify,” he said.
“So, we are appealing to everyone to help us to solve our ‘Shandon mystery’.
“It just may be that someone has an original source in an archive that we do not know about, or information from a secondary source in a book or diary for example, that we are not aware of.”
He said they plan to celebrate the 300th anniversary of Shandon later this year, regardless, but it would be great to solve the mystery this year.
“Indeed, someone out there may readily have an easy answer for us,” he said.
St Anne’s Church is one of the oldest churches in the city. It stands on a site that has been a place of worship since before medieval times.
It was built to replace a previous church, St Mary's, following its destruction in the Siege of Cork in 1690.
The tower, which was raised in 1750 to a height of some 120ft to accommodate the famous bells of Shandon, is a striking landmark on the city’s northern skyline.
The famous clock was erected by the then Cork Corporation in 1847. The four clocks rarely tell the same time, given quirks in the clock mechanism and the effects of the wind on the clock hands.
The parish and diocese are in the process of developing a full tercentenary programme in partnership with the city, the local community, history groups, and others, including the Church of Ireland nationally.