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St. Mary’s Cathedral – Church of Ireland

St Mary’s Cathedral is one of the most photographed buildings of Limerick city.  The Cathedral of Saint Mary Blessed Virgin has had a long and eventful history. It was founded in 1168 on the site of a palace donated by Donal Mor O’Brien, King of Munster.  It is believed that parts of the palace are incorporated into the present structure of the Cathedral. The most prominent being the West Door, which tradition has it was the main entrance to the palace. The palace had been built on the site of the Viking meeting house. This had been the centre of government in the early medieval Viking city. It has the only full set of misericords in Ireland

Plan of St. Mary's Cathedral

In the 1651 after Cromwell’s forces captured the City the Cathedral was used as a stable by the parliamentary army. Luckily the Cathedral survived this relatively unscathed. It is one of the oldest buildings in the city and the oldest still used for it’s intended purpose. The graveyard includes many interesting plots, including Roman Catholic graves (Shanny’s, Clancy’s, Hayes’s) who were fishermen in the Abbey Area, folklore tells us that the Clancy‘s were bequeath their plot by Donal Mor O’Brien himself as they were the family Brehon (lawyers) to the O’Briens.  It is unknown how the Shannys also retained their plot.

Some of the headstones in St. Mary’s Graveyard have been photographed and transcribed here. In the churchyard there is also a memorial to those who died while in service with the United Nations.

The story of the Italian bell maker and his journey to Limerick to listen to the bells of St. Mary’s Cathedral on last time. There is also a tale of the wise crows of St. Mary’s.

St Marys Cathedral CoI

Other Limerick Churches

About The Author

Sharon Slater

Sharon Slater is the owner and operator of the Limerick’s Life website. She has been researching and collecting information regarding Limerick history and genealogies since her early teens. She obtained a Masters degree in Local History at the University of Limerick.

About Limerick’s Life

This website is a personal project of Sharon Slater, born from a passion for Limerick and it's history. She maintains, updates and contributes to it independently and voluntarily. If you'd like to donate to keep Limerick's history online, please know that all donations will go directly into the costs of hosting the website and the time and travel to research and write the articles found on the site.


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