Categories of Special Interest
Architectural, Artistic, Historical, Social, Technical
In Use As
1870 - 1880
Freestanding double-height gable-fronted Roman Catholic church, commenced 1870 and completed 1880, comprising central eight-bay nave with clerestory and dormer attic, flanked by eight-bay single-storey side aisles to sides (north, south). Two-stage tower to south-west corner and three-stage spired bell tower to north-west corner. Gable-fronted transepts and single-storey side chapels to sides (north, south) of nave. L-plan single-storey sacristy to south-east corner and canted front chancel to rear (east) of nave. Pitched slate roofs with ornate cast-iron ridge cresting with terminal finials, tooled limestone gable copings with cruciform finials and octagonal tooled limestone corner turrets to nave and transepts. Lean-to slate roofs to side aisles. Hipped slate roof to south-western tower, having lead flashing, wrought-iron cruciform finial and tooled limestone parapet wall with corner turrets concealing gutters. Pitched slate roofs with cast-iron ridge cresting to side chapels, having tooled limestone gable coping with cruciform finials. Pitched slate roof to sacristy, having fleur-de-lis cast-iron ridge cresting, tooled limestone gable copings and ashlar limestone chimneystack. Hipped slate roof to chancel, having ashlar limestone gablets with cruciform finials to each bay. Tooled limestone eaves courses and cast-iron rainwater goods throughout. Octagonal tooled limestone needle spire to bell tower having bowtell ridges and incised decorative panels, surmounted by wrought-iron cruciform finial. Square-profile turrets with spires and wrought-iron finials to diagonal pitches of spire, having blind gabled single-arch arcades to north, east, south and west pitches. Arcaded balustrade and corner turrets over tooled limestone corbelled eaves, having crotchet details and blind dwarf galleries to corner turrets. Snecked green sandstone walls with chamfered plinths, tooled stone sill courses, string courses and dressed sandstone buttresses with chamfered gabled caps throughout. Trefoil-headed statuary niches to bays of chancel, having tooled sandstone reveals, block-and-start surrounds and canopies with tooled stone statues of various saints. Trefoil-headed statuary niches to second stage of bell tower, having tooled sandstone reveals, column pedestals, block-and-start surrounds and canopies with tooled stone statues of various saints. Tooled limestone gargoyles to corners of third stage of bell tower. Pointed arch window openings with tooled granite sills, surrounds and hood mouldings to nave, transepts, chancel, side chapels and south-west tower. Tooled reticulated sandstone tracery to nave and transept windows, accommodating trefoil headed lancets and multiple-foil roses. Tooled geometric granite tracery to chancel windows, accommodating lancets and trefoil roses, surmounted by poly-chrome relieving arches. Tooled reticulated granite tracery to side chapel and south-west tower windows, accommodating trefoil-headed lancet and trefoil roses, surmounted by poly-chrome relieving arches. Lead-lined stained glass throughout. Paired pointed arch window openings with chamfered granite sills, block-and-start surrounds, voussoirs and hood mouldings to side aisles, having tooled granite mullions, trefoil-headed tracery, polychrome reliving arches and lead-lined quarry glazing. Oculus window openings with tooled granite surrounds to clerestory, having polychrome relieving arch, tooled granite trefoil rose tracery and lead-lined stained-glass quarry glazing. Square-headed tripartite window openings with tooled granite sills, surrounds and lintels to sacristy, having chamfered granite mullions and one-over-one pane timber sliding sash windows surmounted by tooled granite pointed arch tympanum with incised decoration, hood moulding and poly-chrome relieving arches. Pointed arch lancet window openings with chamfered granite sills and block-and-start surrounds to second stage of bell tower, having bow tell moulded voussoirs and lead-lined stained glass quarry glazing surmounted by poly chrome relieving arches. Oculus window openings with tooled granite surrounds below upper stage of bell tower, having trefoil plate tracery and poly-chrome relieving arches. Paired pointed arch openings with chamfered sills to upper stage of bell tower, having block-and-start surrounds to stepped reveals with engaged columns, surmounted by stepped voussoirs with nail-head motif. Cast-iron stairwell and bell platform visible to interior. Timber-framed oculus ventilation openings to dormers, having cinqfoil tracery and later steel mesh covers. Pointed arch Venetian door opening with block-and-start granite surround and voussoirs to front elevation of nave, having engaged pink marble columns to surround and central column. Accommodating pair of shouldered square-headed door openings with timber battened doors surmounted by ornate tooled stone tympanum depicting Blessed Virgin Mary and angels. Surmounted by poly-chrome reliving arch and tooled granite hood moulding. Pointed arch door openings with block-and-start granite surrounds, voussoirs, hood mouldings and poly-chrome relieving arches to front elevations of towers and transepts. Engaged pink marble columns to transept door openings. Double-leaf timber battened doors with wrought-iron strap hinges throughout. Shouldered square-headed door opening to west elevation of sacristy, having block-and-start granite surround, lintel with chamfered reveal and timber battened door with wrought-iron strap hinges. Barrel vaulted timber ceiling to nave interior with splayed ribs springing from clerestory level rendered corbels. Rendered walls throughout, having pointed arch arcades to side aisles springing from marble columns. Tiled floor to central aisle flanked by timber pews. Rendered gallery to west end of nave accommodating organ. Ornate marble altar and reredos to chancel with relief carving of last supper to lower panel. White marble altars to side chapels. Ornate frescoes to chancel and side chapels walls with gold leaf details. Located within own grounds, surrounded by tarmac car park, having tooled stone enclosing plinth wall and cast-iron railings with occasional rolled bracket supports. Square-profile tooled granite gate piers to north-west of site, having plinths, engaged columns and caps with cast-iron finial carrying double-leaf cast-iron gates. Square-profile tooled granite gate-piers to south-east of site having chamfered plinths and caps. Cast-iron gate piers to north of south-eastern gate, carrying cast-iron gate.
This cathedral sized church was opened on the 25th of July 1880 after ten years of building work. The task of building this church was undertaken by Fr. Matthew O'Donovan when he was appointed parish priest of Clonakilty in 1868, he never saw it completed however, as he died in 1875. It was designed in the Gothic Revival style by architect C.S. Ashlin and is built of green sandstone which was quarried locally. Wicklow granite was used in the surrounds of the doors and windows. The spire was erected in the 1890s, the stones of which were dowelled into one another, each section being built and erected at ground level by the firm John Sisk and Sons at Cork before being removed to Clonakilty by train. The bell, from the Fountain Head Bell Foundry in Dublin, was installed in 1898. The fine interior retains much of its outstanding fabric intact, including the main altar which is the work of James Pearse, father of Padraig Pearse, patriot and leader of the 1916 rising.