Categories of Special Interest
Architectural, Artistic, Historical, Social, Technical
Royal College of Saint Patrick
In Use As
1875 - 1891
Attached eleven-bay single- and three-storey Gothic Revival collegiate chapel, built 1875-1891, comprising ten-bay triple-height nave with ten-bay single-storey lean-to side aisles, single-bay triple-height lower apse to north-east arranged as polygonal chevet with full-height gabled chapels and entrance to elevation to south-west. Renovated, 1899-1902, with single-bay four-stage tower added to corner to south-west on a square plan with spire. Gable-ended roof with slate laid in courses (lean-to to aisles; half-polygonal to apse and gabled to chapels to chevet). Rolled lead ridge tiles. Cut-stone coping to gables with iron cross finials to apexes. Lucarnes to nave with iron finials. Cast-iron rainwater goods. Cut-stone spire to tower with lucarnes and iron cross finial to apex. Snecked limestone walls. Cut-limestone dressings including stepped clasping buttresses to corners to south-west with polygonal finials, profiled stringcourses, stepped buttresses to long walls to north-west and to south-east having gabled capping and moulded cornice having parapet wall over with cut-stone coping. Snecked limestone walls to tower with cut-stone dressings including stepped clasping buttresses, moulded stringcourses to each stage, profiled panels to third stage with cast-iron clock faces, and moulded cornice to spire. Traceried (three-light) window openings to nave and to apse in pointed-arch frames having cut-stone chamfered surrounds with hood mouldings over. Trefoil-headed openings with hexafoil openings to arches having fixed-pane stained glass windows. Tripartite window openings to aisles in pointed-arch frames having cut-stone surrounds with hood mouldings over. Trefoil-headed openings with fixed-pane leaded windows. Paired trefoil-headed window openings to ground floor to south-west in pointed-arch frames having cut-stone surrounds, quatrefoil openings to arches and gabled hood mouldings over. Fixed-pane stained glass windows. Rose window to gable to south-west in pointed-arch frame having profiled course below comprising gablets on cut-stone colonettes. Cut-stone Corinthian colonnete surround with hood moulding over. Fixed-pane stained glass windows. Paired square-headed door openings to south-west in shared pointed-arch frame. Cut-stone shouldered surrounds. Moulded cut-stone colonette doorcase with moulded arch over in gable having octafoil motif to gable. Timber panelled doors. Lancet-arch window openings to tower. Cut-stone surrounds. Fixed-pane leaded windows. Paired trefoil-headed openings to top stage in pointed-arch frames having cut-stone surrounds, decorative motif to arches and shared hood mouldings over. Louvered fittings (probably stone). Full-height interior open into roof. Mosaic-tiled floor. Carved timber Gothic-style pews flanking aisle, carved timber panelled wainscoting with frescoes over, polished marble intermediary colonettes, hood mouldings over window openings, timber panelled gallery to first floor to south-west with organ, and moulded ribbed ceiling with painted panels. Moulded pointed-arch chancel arch on colonettes. Gothic-style carved marble altar furniture including reredos. Alabastar altar, 1908. Moulded surrounds to openings to chapels forming chevet. Set in grounds shared with Saint Patrick’s College forming unofficial wing completing library quadrangle to south-east. Landscaped grounds to site.
Saint Patrick’s Collegiate Chapel, designed by J.J. McCarthy, is a monumental exercise in the Gothic Revival style and is arguably the finest collegiate chapel in the country. Well-maintained, the chapel retains most of its original form and fabric and is an invaluable component of the architectural heritage of the college complex and Maynooth. Much ornamented, the chapel is an attractive contrast to the relative sobriety of the adjoining ranges of the library quadrangle (11803128/KD-05-03-128) and the Classical-style Georgian blocks to the remainder of the grounds. The construction in snecked limestone is a fine example of the high quality of stone masonry practised in the locality and this is especially evident in the carved stone detailing that has retained a crisp intricacy. The exterior retains many important original features and materials, including timber fittings to the door openings and slate roofs having iron dressings including finials and rainwater goods. The interior, which is similarly intact, comprises a full-height space of much artistic and technical achievement. The quality of carving to the timber pews and stone dressings (including an altar designed by G.C. Ashlin), the detailing of the mosaic-tiled panels, frescoes and stained glass windows, are all indicative of the high standard of craftsmanship employed in the construction and fitting out of the chapel. The part-exposed construction to the roof is also of some technical or engineering merit. The chapel is a prominent feature in the grounds of the college and dwarfs many of the adjoining ranges. The chapel is complemented by a fine almost-freestanding tower, designed by W. Hague, the soaring spire of which serves to identify the building in the landscape - it is a prominent landmark in the locality of Maynooth - while adding visual incident to the skyline.