Cork City and County

The Consecration of the Roman Catholic Church of St. Mary's, c.1842, James Mahony (1810-1879).

St. Mary's R.C. Church, Dominican Order, Pope's Quay, Cork. Built in 1832 with the portico added in 1861, St. Mary's was designed by Kearns Deane. The church was opened in 1839. A painting by James  Mahony shows the interior of the church as it looked in 1842. George Goldie designed large scale changes to the interior between 1868 and 1871. This included designs for the sanctuary area including  the apse, high altar, the floor tiling and the  impressive baldacchino. Goldie also designed new side altar rails. The Shrine of our Lady of Graces, an ivory image dating back to the late- 13th/ early-14th centuries, to the left of the altar is contained within a reliquary that is further enveloped by a shrine made to Goldie's design. To see a video of the interior as it is today (2018) click on this link.

Church of the Immaculate Conception, Farran, Cork, 1860

The Church of The Immaculate Conception, Farran, 1860. The church was consecrated on August 20th 1860 and replaced a church that had been built earlier in the century but was described by Samuel Lewis  in 1837 as 'a large plain old building.' The old church had a thatched roof and stood witness to the 'poverty of the times in which it was erected .' The Rev. Canon Walsh was credited with the drive to have the old church replaced and he is memorialised by a monument in the nearby church in Ovens.  The  monument was designed by and  its erection overseen by Goldie free of charge 'desirous of his regard and respect for the memory of the deceased.'



St. Finbarr's South Chapel Exterior
St. Finbarr's South Chapel, Cork, (1873)
Sanctuary St. Finbarr's South Chapel, 2018.

St. Finbarr’s South Chapel


St. Finbarr’s South Chapel is the oldest parish church in the city of Cork. Built in 1776 it underwent structural alterations in 1809 and 1866. A report in The Cork Examiner in May 1866 suggests that George Goldie was the architect involved in a major extension to the sanctuary. The same paper reports of the extensions to the church being completed by August 1866 and, although he is not mentioned in the report, it is likely that Goldie was indeed the architect involved as the building contractor was Barry McMullen. McMullen would be the contractor for other works designed by Goldie in Cork including the chapel in the Presentation Convent on nearby Douglas Street, St. Mary and St. John’s in Ballincollig and the orphanage on Wellington Road (these works will be discussed more fully in their own sections on this page). This extension would permit the installation of a new high altar in 1873 by the ‘eminent ecclesiastical architect’ George Goldie. The Cork Examiner dedicated substantial space to its description and praise of the new high altar in January 1874. The newspaper report speaks of Goldie personally supervising the work on the altar and of the altar table designed to hold the Dead Christ, by the Irish sculptor John Hogan. The table was of ‘Sicilian white marble’ supported by ‘neatly carved piers of Caen stone.’ The reredos were flanked by pilasters that contained carved angels ‘with the flowing drapery of the early Tuscan school.’ The sanctuary was remodelled in the mid-twentieth-century and this involved the moving of the altar table nearer to the congregation while the dome of the tabernacle and the carved angels were removed from the reredos. In the photographs shown here we can see the pre-1966, original Goldie design and the altar as it is today.


The chapel of the Presentation Sisters Convent in Douglas Street, now known as Nano Nagle Place, was built by Goldie in 1865. The chapel served as a ‘chapel of ease’ to serve the growth of the Catholic population of the South Parish. When the chapel was consecrated, in March 1865, it was ‘crowded to excess.’ The chapel design borrows much from thirteenth- century French Romanesque architecture and this should come as no surprise as an influence on Goldie given his connections with France (see Biography). The interior of the church is very simple in design and works well within the space afforded to it by the surrounding buildings. As with many of Goldie’s chapels, there is a stained-glass window calling on the faithful to pray for the architect.

South Presentation Convent Chapel Exterior
South Presentation Convent Interior
Stained-Glass Window, South Presentation Convent
St. Mary's and St. John's, Ballincollig


St. Mary’s and St. John’s, Ballincollig.

The building of St. Mary’s and St. John’s commenced on St. John’s day (June 24th) 1865 and the formal laying of the foundation stone  took place on August 13th, 1865. The church, as with many other Roman Catholic churches of the period, (see entry on Bandon), was situated on an elevated site in the town, although its impact on the topography of Ballincollig might not be so evident in the expanded modern urban town of the twentieth-first-century. Reports of the building of the church at the time pointed to the ancient faith being revived as the Catholic churches continued to be rebuilt and built anew throughout the country. The financing of these edifices was particularly difficulty in the years after the Famine but Ballincollig had also fell victim to a localised cholera epidemic during the year the church was being built.

Constructed by Cork builder Barry McMullen, the church had all the hall marks of Goldie’s smaller rural churches but adhering to the signatures of the Gothic Revival in a more elaborate form than his church in nearby Farran and the convent chapel in Bandon. The tiles on the floor of the church were made by Maw and Company of Shropshire, a company for whom Goldie made numerous designs. The stained glass windows were designed by Goldie and made by William Wailes of Newcastle, England, a firm that Goldie had recourse to on many occasions including the windows for St. Patrick’s, Bandon, and the magnificent east windows of St. Vincent’s, Cork. Special trains from Cork needed to be arranged to ferry the many dedicated Catholics of the city and its environs to see the church and be present for its dedication.

Ballincollig Interior
Exterior Window

St. Vincent's Orphanage, Marymount, Wellington Road.

When St. Vincent’s Orphanage was being built on Wellington Road, in the St. Luke’s area of Cork, it was praised by the local media even before its completion. The Irish Examiner reported on the progress of the building in early April 1876 and described it as ‘most picturesque’ and was struck by the ‘beauty of its exterior.’ There was an unusual treatment of the exterior stone work, of brown sandstone with limestone dressing, in that it was cut across the grain and laid in a natural position to make a tighter joint and prevent dampness. The report attributed the architectural design to George Ashlin but this was corrected immediately by the builder Barry McMullen.

The orphanage for young women, was funded entirely by Mr. John Nicholas Murphy, a founding member of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Cork and a part of the Murphy brewing family, and a Papal Count. The building is now part of a much larger complex that has seen multiple changes of use over its lifetime, as a hospital, a nursing home and a hospice – Marymount Hospice, now relocated and occupied by a private school, has been a major part of the social history of the city. Goldie’s orphanage remained as a convent of the Sister’s of Charity up until 2009.

The building by Goldie stands on elevated ground overlooking the city and with its expansive grounds would have been an impressive sight in its own right prior to the additions that were made from the early twentieth-century onward. The building is in a distinct Gothic Revival style complete with turrets  at the east and west ends of the building and  a central bay containing a statue to Goldie’s designs above the main door. The statue was carved by a London statue maker named Ruddick and was exhibited at the Royal Academy Exhibition in 1875.

There was a chapel in the orphanage but this is no longer extant having been replaced by a new chapel in the adjoining building. The new chapel was built 1908-9 in the adjoining St. Patrick’s hospital which had been constructed in the 1870s. The new chapel was funded by Isabella Honan, of the same family that funded the building of the Honan chapel at University College Cork.

The original chapel was on the second floor above the main entrance. The apse was hexagonal in shape had stained glass windows and even though the shape and windows still maintain the original form the stained glass has been removed. The altar was destined for a similar fate but we do have descriptions from The Irish Examiner of 1877, the day of the orphanage’s blessing and opening. The reredos were particularly praised but rather than statuary in the niches there were paintings by the London artist Nathaniel Westlake. Westlake was a noted designer of stained glass during the Gothic Revival and his altar paintings are still to be found in churches in the United Kingdom. It is possible, given his reputation,  that Westlake also made the stained glass for the chapel after designs by Goldie. If this is the case then the loss of the reredos and windows in the chapel is also the loss of fine examples of a leading artist who had worked with, amongst others, William Burgess.



Exterior View, West End Turret
Exterior View, Upper Storey Chapel
Exterior View, St. Vincent's Orphanage
Exterior View, Rear of Building
Exterior View, East End Turret and Bay, St. Vincent's Orphanage.
Exterior Door Detail
Entrance and Statue of St. Vincent de Paul