St. Mary's Cathedral
Soaring above Killarney Town
Visitors to The Ross will be familiar with the natural beauty of their surroundings, but they are also impressed by some of its man-made wonders, including the graceful spire of the Roman Catholic cathedral. Soaring above the town of Killarney, the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption, better known as St Mary’s, has been a beacon for devotion since the 19th century.
St. Mary’s Cathedral was designed by the celebrated English architect Augustus Welby Pugin, who is said to have been inspired with the design for the church while boating on Loch Lein (the Lower Lake of the Lakes of Killarney). With its elegant proportions and soaring lines, the Cathedral is one of the most significant Gothic Revival churches of the Irish 19th century and has been recorded as one of Pugin’s favourite buildings.
Work started on the magnificent building in 1842, but construction was suspended during the gravest period of the Great Famine, when the shell of the Cathedral was used as a makeshift hospital. Killarney Cathedral was eventually completed in 1855. It remains a vibrant hub of the Catholic Church in Killarney, with a full programme of religious services and capacity congregations for celebrations such as Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.