For all the times that I ever passed it on journeys to and from Cork, it took me until November 2014 to see the mother church of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Cork and Ross at close quarters. Cork itself is a compact walkable city and I found my way somewhat serendipitously on a crisp sunny afternoon before returning home by air. For all other appearances, it was not at all far from another of the city's well known landmarks, St. Anne's Church of Ireland church in Shandon. The streets are narrow and have a cosy feel to them too and remind me of a medieval street plan.
There certainly has been a church on the site of the present cathedral since 1306 but the present building dates only as far back as the nineteenth century though construction did start during the previous one. However, extensive damage by a fire in 1820 means that much of the present building dates from after that. The architect George Pain was responsible for the subsequent refurbishment with the church again re-opening in 1828. Also dating from that time, the reredos behind the high alter features work from then apprentice sculptor John Hogan. There is more to this edifice than an exquisite sandstone and limestone exterior facade that attempts to belie the relative historic poverty of the area where it was sited.