Cork's Gothic Cathedral, Saint Fin Barre's is built on the site where the city of Cork began. A monastery was founded here by St. Fin Barre, the patron saint of Cork, in the seventh century. According to tradition, he travelled from his island hermitage at Gougane Barra at the source of the river Lee to found what was to become the 'School of Cork', a site of Christian worship and teaching. That tradition of Christian worship has continued unbroken for over fourteen centuries and the settlements around the monastery grew into the city of Cork. Regarded as the first Bishop of Cork, Fin Barre's name in Irish, 'Fionnbarr' means 'fair headed'.
The present Cathedral is believed to be the eleventh church to stand on the site. It was built between 1865 and 1879 and was designed by the architect, William Burges. It is a building of international significance and is considered to be one of the most complete examples of French Neo Gothic architecture in Western Europe. Every detail, from the elaborate stone and wood carvings to the magnificent stain-glass windows was designed by Burges. The Cathedral is built from local limestone and decorated internally with Cork Marble. With much of the carvings executed by local craftsmen, Saint Fin Barre's is truly a 'Cork' Cathedral.
The Cathedral is opened all year round, for both pilgrims and visitors. Information leaflets are available in several languages and guided tours are provided on request at no extra charge.