St. Colman’s Cathedral, overlooking Cobh, carries within its walls the traditions of thirteen centuries of the Diocese of Cloyne. It is dedicated to St. Colman who founded the diocese in 560 A.D. St. Colman’s is an exquisite gem of neo-Gothic architecture that took 47 years to build, starting in 1868. In 1916 a Carillon of 42 bells was installed. The Cathedral is a regular venue for Recitals by Choirs from all parts of the world. The Centenary of the consecration of St. Colman’s Cathedral will be celebrated in 2019, writes RAY CLEERE
Majestic in its setting on Cobh’s terraced slopes and proudly boasting its many exquisite features, the dove-grey pile of St. Colman’s Cathedral enshrines within its hallowed walls the proud traditions of the historic Diocese which had its beginning 1,400 years ago in St. Colman’s monastery in Cloyne.
In its gothic grace, the Cathedral, noble in proportions and elaborate in ornamentation, is the pride of the Diocese of Cloyne and an object of universal admiration.
In his early life Colman, son of Lenin (522 – 604) was a poet and a bard to the Court of Aodh Caomh, King of Munster, at Cashel, in County Tipperary. Subsequently Colman, who was influenced by St. Brendan and St. Ita, renounced the splendours of Cashel and he became a priest.
From the King of Cashel he received a grant of land at Cloyne, some miles from the eastern shores of Cork Harbour. According to the Book of Rights, Cloyne was one of the residences of the Kings of Cashel and there, according to the Psalter of Cashel, the Church of Cloyne was founded by St. Colman in 560A.D.
In that storied place, traces of its early monastic traditions proudly survive. The feast day of St. Colman is celebrated on November 24th.
Colman’s monastic foundation, over which he had ruled for 40 years, eventually became the spiritual heart of an extensive diocese. For 800 years Cloyne was the residence of its Bishops and the Cathedral was sited there.
The history of Cloyne mirrors the ravages of Norse raids, the impact of the Norman invasion, the interference of secular powers in Church affairs and the agony of the Penal Laws.
From 1429 to 1747, the Dioceses of Cork and Cloyne were united and stubbornly survived the long night of persecution. Then, from 1747 until 1850, Cloyne and Ross were united. In those turbulent centuries three Bishops died in exile: Robert Barry at Nantes in 1662; John Baptist Sleyne at Lisbon in 1712; and John O’Brien at Lyons 250 years ago in 1769.