The South West offers, arguably, the most diverse selection of religious destinations in Ireland. From the magnificent cathedrals of Cork City to ancient monasteries found in the isolation at the western edges of County Kerry, the South West has Catholicism running through its veins.
On this page, we've selected a few of the very best religious sites of Ireland's South West.
The current cathedral stands on the site of two former buildings which were dedicated to Finbarr of Cork. The first of these structures was built in the 7th century and was damaged in the 1690 Siege of Cork. In 1735 a new building was formed.
The Cathedral as it is seen today was designed by the notable architect, William Burges, the foundation stone was laid in 1865 and the first service was held in 1870. It has triple spires with portals to the west front and an abundance of external stone carved detail. The stones used in the building are Cork limestones and marbles.
The organ, dating from 1889, is placed in the north transept. It was built in 1870 by William Hill and Sons. It has 3 manuals and 40 stops. It is the largest Cathedral Organ in Ireland and the only one in a pit in Britain or Ireland. The golden angel was donated by William Burges to the church.
This Church is located, in the centre of the City Cork, just off St Patrick's Street. It is regarded as one of the finest examples of 19th century neo-Gothic architecture in Ireland. Its predecessor, built in 1786 and known as Carey's Lane Chapel, was the parish Church for the entire centre of Cork City.
The Church was designed by Edward Welby Pugin in collaboration with George Ashlin. Its foundation stone was laid on August 15th 1859 and it was opened in 1866. The pulpit, is carved from Russian oak and then decorated with different scenes depicting Christ's childhood.
The main altar, was consecrated in 1874 and is made from 36 tons of Sicilian marble. This church is one of the most important buildings in Cork. Since 1765, the church is the repository of baptismal, confirmation and marriage records. This information can be used by anyone tracing their genealogy or composing their family trees.
It is commonly know as the "North Cathedral". You could find it in the historic heart of the city, this cathedral is the mother church of the dioceses of Cork and Ross. It is located on the site of a former church built in the 1730s.
The cathedral was built in 1808, but was extensively damaged by an act of arson in 1820. George Richard Pain undertook the restoration of the cathedral. The sanctuary was extended in 1964 with the addition of the sanctuary tower. There was also a major refurbishment undertaken in the 1900's. The present Cathedral is a curious mix of craftsmanship from the 19th century giving it a feel of both the ancient and the modern.
The main facade of the church, took many years to finish. Commissioned in 1825 by Fr Mathew, completion of the interior took over 10 years. William Atkins, the church's original designer, died before it was completed. In 1889 Dominic J. Coakley, constructed the spire. The size was reduced by him, according to the original plans.
The interior has a stained glass designed by the Harry Clarke Studios. The monastery was built in 1888 by Robert Walker.
Drombeg Stone Circle in County Cork, is a recumbent stone circle (one which includes a large monolith resting on its side) of 29ft across. Recumbent stone circle are only found in 2 places in the world, the South West region of Ireland and the North East region of Scotland. During a 1958 excavation the cremated remains of a child were found in a pot at the centre of the stone circle.
Ardgroom Stone Circle can be found near the village of Ardgroom in County Cork. The circle is made up of 11 stones and, usually for stone circles, they seem to lean inwards towards a centre point.