Limerick City: Ecclesiastical Architecture

Limerick City has a wealth of ecclesiastical architecture that dates from earliest times to the present day. St Mary's Cathedral was begun in the late twelfth century or early in the thirteenth century. Although externally altered, the interior illustrates the heart of a building designed under the influence of the Cistercians. The small Catholic chapels built before the Act of Catholic Emancipation in 1829 have been replaced by later nineteenth-century churches, with the exception of St Saviour's Dominican Church on Baker Place, which was extended and remodelled in the mid nineteenth century. Of the seven non-conformist chapels, three still exist: the Quaker Meeting House (1806), accessed from Cecil Street, the Presbyterian Meeting House, Glentworth Street, and Trinity Church (1834), on Catherine Street. James and George Pain designed St Michael's Church of Ireland parish church in c.1836. Their Picturesque Gothick design was simplified in execution, and when finished in 1844 looked more like a Board of First Fruits church. In 1827, the medieval St Munchin's Church was replaced by the Pain brothers with a typical First Fruits church, in a pared down Gothic style. When John Welland succeeded as architect to the Board's successor, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, he pioneered a Hiberno-Romanesque style as a replacement for the medieval St John's, Irishtown in 1851. The Catholic Church began a revolutionary building programme in the mid nineteenth century. St John's parish church, designed by Philip Charles Hardwicke was opened in 1861 as a cathedral. It owed much to A.W.N. Pugin. Contemporary with St. John's was the Redemptorist church and monastery, South Circular Road. Its chief charm lies in the beautifully lit side chapels with their stained glass roofs and flower mosaics, George Goldie's reredos (1865) and the Oppenheimer apse mosaics (1927). The architect was William Edward Corbett. His big commission came with the city's Franciscan Friary (1876). The Jesuits also designed a classical church. Although uncomfortably inserted into The Crescent, it has a light interior enhanced by a fine neo-classical altarl. St Michael's parish church, at the foot of Chapel Lane, was built to replace an earlier chapel in 1881. It was an early Catholic Hiberno-Romanesque church. Two Gothic Revival non-Conformist churches, the Baptist Church (1894), on Quinlan Street and the Presbyterian Church (1899), on Henry Street, have a definite Edwardian character where their asymmetry owes more to creating an interesting public faade than to Puginian or ecclesiological dictates. The Catholic Church continued to commission revival buildings in the Victorian idiom: St Joseph's (1900), designed by W.E. Corbett, is a classical design, while St Mary's (1930), Athlunkard Street by Ashlin and Coleman, and the Augustinian Church (1942), O'Connell Street, were designed in what had become the popular Hiberno-Romanesque style. The Church of Our Lady of the Rosary (1951), Ennis Road, designed by Frank Corr and Liam McCormick, expressed the functions of the pre-Vatican II liturgy in the traditional way. Constructed from a light steel frame and clad in timber weather-boarding with clerestory windows running the entire length of the building, it is modern in appearance and character and seems the epitome of modern functionalism.

Saint Camillus's Hospital, Shelbourne Road, Limerick, Limerick City

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Attached five-bay single-storey rectangular plan single-cell chapel, built c. 1865, forming the north pavilion of the entrance block of the former Limerick Union Workhouse. Entrance porch, c. 1960 to east elevation. Pitched slate roof with cruciform finial to west gable. uPVC rainwater goods. Squared and snecked limestone walls on limestone plinth base, delineated by limestone…


Saint Munchin's Roman Catholic Church, Clancy's Strand, High Road, Limerick, Limerick City

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Freestanding limestone Roman Catholic church, built between 1920-21, to a cruciform plan with octagonal partially projecting belfry to apex of east elevation, gabled transepts and five-sided apse to rear. Gabled natural slate roof with fish scale slate courses and staged gable parapet. Squared and coursed rock-faced limestone walls throughout, with smooth limestone ashlar plinth course,…


Island Theatre Company, Church Street, Limerick, Limerick City

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Detached four-bay Board of the First Fruits Church of Ireland Church, built in 1827, with a square-plan tower to the west elevation, and entrance porch northeast corner. Built on the site of a previous church. Pitched artificial slate roof to church, and pitched slate roof to porch. Limestone eaves course supports uPVC gutters. Generally squared…


Saint Mary's Church of Ireland Cathedral, Nicholas Street, Athlunkard Street, Limerick, Limerick City

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Freestanding cruciform-plan limestone Church of Ireland cathedral, begun c. 1160, with subsequent phases of construction and alterations, belonging to the succeeding centuries. Incorporates two-bay two-storey former school building to northeast. Pitched slate roof on cruciform plan with lead ridging. Secondary pitched roofs over aisles and school. Western elevation with tower rising above entrance bay with…


Saint Mary's Roman Catholic Church, Athlunkard Street, Saint Mary's Place, Limerick, Limerick City

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Freestanding Hiberno-Romanesque style limestone Roman Catholic church, built between 1930-32, with seven-bay aisle and clerestorey side elevations prolonged by slightly recessed cancel elevation, and a three-stage tower to southwest corner, built in 1940. Sacristy and attendant structures to gabled chancel elevation. Built on a rectangular plan, with a double-height nave flanked by single-height aisles. Pitched…


Our Lady of the Rosary Roman Catholic Church, Ennis Road, North Circular Road, Limerick, Limerick City

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Freestanding single-cell timber clad Roman Catholic church, built in 1951, facing east with belfry to northeast. Low pitched felt covered roof to nave with felt covered flat roofs to side aisle sections. Replacement uPVC gutter and square-profile tin downpipes. Copper gutter to entrance porches. Timber clad walls on concrete plinth. Multiple-pane horizontal window opening running…


Grand Central Cinema, Bedford Row, Limerick, Limerick City

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Attached three-bay three-storey former cinema, façade built c. 1930, to the front of a former Methodist chapel, built c. 1820, which has been incorporated within. Pitched roof of meeting house, obscured by Art Deco façade parapet. Cast-iron rainwater goods. Limestone ashlar crow-stepped gable of façade survives behind existing façade which is pebbledash rendered with smooth…


Franciscan Church, Henry Street, Franciscan Lane, Limerick, Limerick City

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Attached limestone ashlar Franciscan Roman Catholic church, built between 1876-86, but not finished until 1929, with a southeast facing façade comprising a tetrastyle Corinthian pedimented portico standing over the street pavement to central nave bay, flanked by single-bay two-storey aisle entrance bays. Cupola with copper dome rises from roof above portico. Built with adjoining four-bay…


Franciscan Friary, Henry Street, Bedford Row, Limerick, Limerick City

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Attached four-bay three-storey friary building, built between 1876-86, but not finished until 1929, with a ten-bay three-storey elevation facing Bedford Row. An M-profile roof is hidden behind a parapet wall, and six limestone ashlar chimneystacks are visible from street level. Façade elevations is faced in squared and coursed tooled limestone with limestone ashlar parapet entablature.…


Saint Michael's Roman Catholic Church, Denmark Street, Limerick, Limerick City

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Freestanding T-plan limestone church, originally built between 1779-81, remodelled in 1805 and rebuilt in 1881, facing northwest with double-height side aisles and three apses to the southeast chancel elevation. Four stage tower beside and three-bay three-storey presbytery attached at a 45-degree angle. Built to replace an earlier church and incorporates parts of the previous church.…


Saint John's Church of Ireland Church, Church Street, Limerick, Limerick City

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Freestanding double-height Romanesque style limestone church, built in 1851, on the site of a mediaeval church. Gabled west elevation with centrally-placed Romanesque portal door opening and blind arcade of three round arches at first floor level, and rose window to gable above. Square-plan three-stage tower to southwest corner, with a splay-foot pyramidal limestone spire, rising…


Limerick Institute of Technology - School of Art, Clare Street, Old Clare Street, Limerick, Limerick City

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Attached cruciform-plan double and triple height former convent chapel, begun in 1928, facing east with copper drum and dome. On an elevated site within the grounds of the former Convent of the Good Shepherd, now in use as an exhibition space within the Limerick college of art and design (Limerick Institute of Technology). Built on…


Saint Patrick's Roman Catholic Church, Clare Street, Limerick, Limerick City

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Freestanding T-plan gable-fronted stone Roman Catholic church, dated 1816, facing south with bell-cote and modern front wall railings. Pitched natural slate roofs with fleur-de-lis terracotta ridge comb tiles, c. 2004, stone coping to all four gables on stone kneelers surmounted by an iron crucifix. Front gable has a pitched ashlar limestone bellcote with pointed-arched opening…


Horwath Bastow Charleton, Lower Mallow Street, Henry Street, Limerick, Limerick City

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Detached rectangular plan Ruabon brick with Portland stone dressings former Presbyterian church, built between 1899-1901, in an Early English Gothic Revival style. Three stage corner tower and a three-sided apse to west. Church now in commercial office use after an extensive renovation, c. 1995. Four gabled bays to north and south elevations with narrow gabled…


Church of the Sacred Heart, The Crescent, Limerick, Limerick City

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Terraced cruciform-plan three-bay three-storey pedimented brick church, built between 1864-67, with seven-sided apse to rear. Erected largely to the rear of two terraced late Georgian houses which were replaced or incorporated within (the northern bay of one house survives to the north). The tetrastyle red brick temple-fronted classical facade is dated to 1900 and comprises:…


Saint Joseph's Roman Catholic Church, Quinlan Street/O'Connell Avenue, Saint Joseph Street/Little Barrington Street, Limerick, Limerick City

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Freestanding cruciform-plan double-height cut limestone classical Roman Catholic church, built between 1900-04, with three-bay pedimented façade, square plan three-stage tower to south west, five-sided apse to rear and three-bay single-storey vestry attached to the south. Street-fronted façade within its own walled grounds. Pitched artificial slate roofs, hipped behind pediment with black ridge tiles and cast-iron…


Saint Joseph's Parish Centre, Quinlan Street, Little Barrington Street, Limerick, Limerick City

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Freestanding rectangular plan double-height over raised basement, red brick and limestone gable-fronted former Baptist Church, built in 1894, in the Gothic Revival style. Two-storey gabled entrance bay to the north and a single-storey gabled entrance porch to the south, approached by two flights of steps flanked by railings. Converted to a parish centre in 1995.…


Saint Michael's Church of Ireland Church, Pery Square, Limerick, Limerick City

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Detached Church of Ireland church, designed in c. 1836 and completed in 1844, in a late Georgian Gothic Revival design, comprising a single-cell church standing on a crypt. Distinguished by a north-facing limestone ashlar façade comprising a three-stage tower with crenellated parapet with corner and intermediate pinnacles. The tower is structurally and visually strengthened by…


Saint Vincent de Paul's Society, Hartstonge Street, Limerick, Limerick City

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Freestanding two-bay four-storey over basement townhouse, built c. 1840, distinguished by a three-centre arched door opening and a fine Adamesque cast-iron balcony with quadrant sides at first floor level. Two-bay chapel return to rear having a late nineteenth-century second floor distinguished by a cusped limestone arched window heads and gabled south-facing elevation. M-profile roof with…


Royal Liver Assurance/Christ Church, O'Connell Street, Limerick, Limerick City

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Terraced six-bay three-storey rendered building, built c. 1930, in the Art Deco style, distinguished by two shopfronts at ground floor level, flanking a centrally-placed door opening, with vertically emphasised window bays to first and second floor and narrow window piers giving a staccato rhythm to the façade. Stucco cornice sill course at first floor level.…