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 The small Catholic chapels built before the Act of Catholic Emancipation in 1829 have been replaced by later nineteenth-century churches, with the exception of St Saviour's Dominican Church on Baker Place, which was extended and remodelled in the mid nineteenth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.

Irish Red Cross, Cecil Street, Limerick, Limerick City

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Detached six-bay two-storey rubble stone former Quaker Meeting House, built in 1806, on a back lane site accessed from Cecil Street through a curiously attractive Art Deco rendered screen wall. Gabled slate roof with partially rendered red brick chimneystack to south gable wall, which faces onto the site of the former Hartigan's Horse Repository. Cast-iron…


McKerns Printing, Glentworth Street, Limerick, Limerick City

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Attached five-bay two-storey pedimented limestone former Presbyterian meeting house, built in 1846, in a classic Greek Revival style. Sold in 1904 to McKerns with a three-bay single-storey wing added to the front c. 1990. Roof hidden behind pediment. Squared and coursed smooth limestone ashlar walls with carved cornice to pediment over plain frieze and architrave.…


Mid-Western Health Board, Catherine Street, Limerick, Limerick City

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Attached three-bay two-storey over basement limestone pedimented former Episcopal Church, built in 1834, and flanked by a pair of attached two-bay three-storey over basement red brick townhouses to either side. Gutted c. 2000 and rebuilt with an attic-storey added to all three structures. Flat roof with artificial slate mansard front and sides with lead covered…


Saint Augustine's Roman Catholic Church, O'Connell Street, Augustinian Lane, Limerick, Limerick City

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Attached double-height gable-fronted Hiberno-Romanesque street-fronted west-facing church, built between 1938-42, with square-plan tower to north. Rectangular-plan church with a pitched and sprocketed natural slate roof, with limestone coping to both gable ends and a stone Celtic cross to both apexes, semi-conical roof to rear apse with natural slate and lead flashing. Both side aisles have…


Saint Saviour's Roman Catholic Church, Baker Place, Dominick Street, Limerick, Limerick City

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Detached rectangular plan ashlar limestone church, dated to 1815, largely reworked to form its current composition, c. 1860-1870, forming a three-storey gabled nave elevation with angle buttresses surmounted by gablet pinnacles rising above, and projecting arcaded narthex, flanked by double-height lean-to aisle elevations with projecting gabled aisle porches, with a gabled east-facing chancel elevation, and…


Limerick Adult Education Centre, Sexton Street, Limerick, Limerick City

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Detached seven-bay three-storey over basement former Presentation Convent, built c. 1850, with a two-bay three-storey window to each end and a multiple-bay rear return facing east. A former Roman Catholic chapel occupies the ground floor of three conjoined structures to the northwest c. 1850. Pitched natural slate roofs to the college gable to the wings…


Saint John's Roman Catholic Cathedral, Cathedral Place, Garryowen Road, Limerick, Limerick City

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Detached Gothic Revival snecked ashlar limestone Roman Catholic Cathedral, built between 1855-61, on a cruciform plan, with a soaring tower attached to the northwest side elevation. Squared and snecked limestone walls throughout, with original and re-pointed lime mortar pointing. Limestone ashlar to all detailing externally. Gabled copper clad roof to nave intersected at the crossing…


Mary Immaculate Training College, South Circular Road, Prospect Avenue, Limerick, Limerick City

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Detached north-facing gable-fronted rendered chapel, built in 1903, with triple-arched entrance, rose window overhead and apex surmounted by limestone ashlar belfry. Five-bay side elevations with buttresses articulating window piers. Projections accommodating confessionals to side elevations. Single-bay gable-ended chancel to south. Distinctive meditation room on perpendicular access to southwest. Timber-framed glazed links to east joins chapel…


Marie Reparatrice Convent Chapel, Laurel Hill Avenue, Limerick, Limerick City

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Attached four-bay single-storey rendered convent chapel, built c. 1860, with a west-facing and east-facing chancel gabled elevation, and gabled entrance porch to northwest corner. Gabled slate roof with terracotta comb ridge tiles, and limestone coping to parapet wall rising from limestone bases. Limestone ashlar belfry rising from east gable, surmounted by cruciform finial. Cement rendered…


Saint Alphonsus Ligouri Redemptorist Monastery, South Circular Road, Limerick, Limerick City

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Partially attached courtyard planned twelve-bay three-storey limestone monastery building, built c. 1860, comprising a ten-bay three-storey principal east-facing elevation with a distinctive double-height recessed arched entrance bay to north and three-bay gabled end-bay to south. Attached to the south, perpendicular to the latter and advancing eastward is a five-bay three-storey-over basement wing attached by a…


Saint Alphonsus Ligouri Redemptorist Church, South Circular Road, Limerick, Limerick City

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Attached limestone Roman Catholic church, built between 1858-62, comprising a gabled east-facing nave elevation with buttressing to the height of the flanking lean-to aisle elevation. Single-story porch bay to north linking church to freestanding four-stage square-plan campanile, surmounted by octagonal spire, erected in 1875; with angle corner buttressing rising to third stage which has a…


Mount Saint Vincent Convent Chapel, O'Connell Avenue, Limerick, Limerick City

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Attached four-bay double-height limestone convent chapel, built in 1861, in the Gothic Revival style, on a T-shaped plan, with transepts adjoining the side elevation of the convent building. Three-stage tower and octagonal spire to south-eastern corner of transept and nave. Partial basement level to east. Gabled entrance porch to north entrance elevation. Pitched slate roof…


Saint Joseph's Hospital Chapel, Mulgrave Street, Limerick, Limerick City

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Detached cruciform-plan limestone ashlar chapel, built in 1863, on a north-south axis, with entrance elevation to south, and chancel and transepts to north, and having a sacristy to north elevation, and multiple gabled porch openings. Pitched gabled slate roof with cast-iron crested ridge tiles. Intersecting gabled transept roof structures with limestone ashlar gable parapets rising…


Mount Saint Lawrence's Chapel, Old Cork Road, Mount Street Lower, Limerick, Limerick City

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Detached single-storey single-bay gabled mortuary chapel, built c. 1855, having two-bay sides, with buttressing articulating window piers, and bowed blind arcaded apse to rear. Elaborately conceived limestone ashlar belfry rises from southern gable to which apsidal elevation is attached. Sacristy wing attached to west elevation with abutting chimneystack. Pitched natural slate roof and interlocking secondary…


Convent of Mercy Westbourne, Castlewell, Courtbarrack Road, Limerick, Limerick City

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Attached six-bay two-storey rendered house, built c. 1890, oriented south and built on a U-plan around a service courtyard defined by single-storey ranges and two-storey square-plan towers. Built in a plain Italianate manner, converted and vastly extended to accommodate a convent during the twentieth century. Attached three-bay three-storey rendered convent with porch, built 1932, with…