A Brief History

This Cathedral is a good example of the work of the famous architect Augustus Welby Pugin.

1809: The old Cathedral is completed. Enniscorthy becomes the Episcopal Centre of the Diocese of Ferns.

1838: Bishop James Keating (1783-1849) presides at a meeting which decides that “the most efficient means of enlarging, improving and repairing the church” be adopted.

1839: Temporary repairs to the old church commence under the direction of the famous architect A.W.Pugin, who draws up plans for a new Cathedral.

1843: Bishop James Keating places the foundation stone of Pugin’s Cathedral.

1846: The first Mass is celebrated in the chancel and trancepts.

1849: Bishop Keating dies.Work on the nave having been completed, the old building (around which the new Cathedral was built) is demolished.

1850: Bishop Myles Murphy becomes the first Bishop of Ferns to be consecrated in the new Cathedral. The central tower as envisaged by Pugin is added.

1857: Bishop Thomas furlong engages J.J. McCarthy to complete the interior decorations in accordance with Pugin’s plan. Pearse and Sharpe provide the High Altar. (It is interesting to note that Patrick Pearse, the great Irish patriot, was the son of the former. Patrick Pearse fought and died for Irish independence in the 1916 Rising). The chancel and the sanctuary were now complete with a beautiful reredos and the great east window was filled with stained glass.

1860: The Cathedral is solemnly blessed by Bishop Thomas Furlong.

1871: The spire is erected but both spire and central tower are immediately dismantled as they were collapsing.

1873: Fr John L. Furlong, Administrator of the parish of St. Aidan’s, places the cross in position on the reconstructed steeple, with a modified version of Pugin’s tower.

1885: The great north window is filled with stained glass in honour of the Immaculate Conception, surrounded by patron saints of the parishes and the diocese. The windows in the north and south aisles are enhanced with stained glass. The Stations of the Cross are put into position.

1894: The organ is replaced.

1897:The Earl of Portsmouth makes a free gift of the Cathedral grounds to the Bishop of Ferns.

1915: The morgue and the baptistery are added to the original plan. Between 1936 and 1945 the old roof is replaced because of dampness. Seats of Austrian oak are placed in the interior of the Cathedral. The great south window is filled with stained glass in honour of the Glorified Christ. The organ is moved, making it possible for the public to see the window.Work on the interior was concluded with the erection of new Stations of the Cross to replace the old ones. By 1945, the debt arising from all this work had been cleared off. The following year the renovated Cathedral was consecrated to the service of God by Bishop James Staunton.

1970: All the stencilling is over-painted with white in the style of the day.

1994: St. Aidan’s is restored in its original Pugin style using authentic colours, materials and techniques. It is now an outstanding example of the many structural and decorative characteristics of the Gothic Revival’s greatest exponent of ecclesiastical architecture. The restoration cost one million pounds.

Our Parish