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Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist, John Street, Cashel, Tipperary South
22105077
View from north-west.
Reg. No.22105077
Date1780 - 1815
Previous NameN/A
TownlandCASHEL
CountyTipperary South
Coordinates207844, 140397
Categories of Special InterestARCHITECTURAL ARTISTIC ARCHAEOLOGICAL HISTORICAL SOCIAL
RatingNational
Original Usecathedral
In Use Ascathedral
 
Description
Freestanding double-height Church of Ireland cathedral, built 1784, with four-bay nave elevations, pedimented aedicular entrance projection to front with three-stage spired clock steeple above added 1812, and bowed chancel. Hipped slate roof to nave and conical slate roof to chancel, all with carved limestone dentillated cornice and pulvinated frieze, except for part of south end of front elevation. Carved limestone dentillated pediment to aedicule. Cut limestone steeple consists of cruciform base with metal clock faces to lower part separated from square-plan plinth by carved limestone string course, rusticated limestone to faces of upper part having central round-arch openings with carved limestone imposts and archivolts with keystones and flanked by engaged Ionic colonnettes supporting carved limestone entablature. Round-plan drum of dressed limestone with alternating round-arch openings with timber louvers and blind openings separated by pilasters supporting carved cornice and in turn supporting octagonal dressed limestone spire with carved limestone ball finial. Dressed limestone walls with dressed limestone plinth and carved string course. Bays of side walls are separated by Ionic pilasters to north wall rusticated to lower level and rusticated pilasters to south. Rusticated limestone to ground floor of front elevation, continuing to west ends of nave side walls, with dressed limestone quoins. Exposed rubble limestone walling to most of south end of front elevation. Limestone aedicule to front façade comprises paired dressed limestone Ionic pilasters with dressed limestone architrave, frieze and cornice above, flanking round-headed recessed panel with carved sill course, flanked by carved limestone pilasters, archivolt and keystone, all in turn framing round-headed niche with carved impost course, archivolt and keystone, flanking dressed limestone pilasters with carved vegetal capitals supporting carved limestone frieze and pediment. Side walls of entrance projection have recessed square-headed openings to ground floor with carved limestone architraves and cornices, opening to north having replacement timber door and opening to south having eight-over-eight pane timber sliding sash window with limestone sill. Round-headed window openings to upper level with carved limestone block-and-start surrounds, triple keystones, limestone sills having carved limestone brackets and timber louvers and bull's eye openings with carved limestone surrounds and timber louvers above. Round-headed openings to side elevations with flanking carved limestone pilasters, voussoirs and triple keystones, limestone sills and fifteen-over-fifteen pane timber sliding sash windows with spoked fanlights. Round-headed east window having carved limestone block-and-start surround with triple keystone, divided into two lights with round light to spandrel, with stained glass. Square-headed entrance doorway with carved limestone architrave with dressed limestone plinth blocks, keystone, cornice and fluted consoles, having timber panelled double-leaf door, limestone step and cast-iron boot-scrape. Former doorways in front wall of nave and flanking entrance projection are square-headed with dressed limestone voussoirs and have four-over-four pane timber sliding sash windows to upper part. Interior has carved archivolt to chancel arch flanked by pilasters in turn flanked by shouldered doorways with timber panelled doors having open tympani with moulded surrounds over. Timber parquet ceiling, timber panelled altar backdrop with detail of round arches separated by engaged colonettes with carved capitals and flanked by panelled pilasters supporting carved brackets and entablature. Organ to one side of altar in arcaded recess and having timber arcade detailing. Impost course to nave interior with panelled timber gallery to entrance end of nave. Round-headed doorway to nave proper with part glazed timber double-leaf door having spoked fanlight over. Stone flag floor to interior of cathedral. Cathedral stands in graveyard and on site of medieval parish church. Limestone boundary wall is partly medieval town wall. Monument to front wall of building is composite of medieval crucifixion plaque and armorial plaque and later scroll details. Variety of medieval effigies and grave-slabs to graveyard. Fine collection of elaborate limestone tombs to east of cathedral.

Appraisal

This cathedral replaced the ancient cathedral on the Rock of Cashel and the medieval parish church of the town to become one of two Anglican cathedrals built in Ireland or Britain in the eighteenth century, the other being at Waterford. Its Georgian style is evidenced by the regular form, hipped roof and round-headed openings and by the incorporation of Classical elements such as the aedicule, pediment and pilasters. There is evidence of fine stone crafting throughout the building. The spire was added by Vitruvius Morrison in 1812, the chancel was remodelled in a gilded elaborate Italian Romanesque style by William Atkins and the organ is by Samuel Green. The curiously unfinished south side of the entrance front, and the different elevations to the long north and south walls, are all of particular interest and perhaps reflect a desire to lavish attention on the parts of the building immediately visible on the approach from John Street. It forms a nationally important precinct with the library, gates and gate lodge. The tall spire ensures that the building is visible from afar and constitutes one of the most imposing features in the Cashel townscape.
 
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