Selecting St. Mary’s for Cathedral Status would be a “vote of confidence” for inner-city regeneration – Fitzpatrick  

by Alex Greaney
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Alex Greaney 

Fianna Fáil Senator in Dublin Central and Spokesperson on Housing, Local Government, and Heritage, Mary Fitzpatrick, has said that the iconic St. Mary’s Pro-Cathedral, which has served Dubliners for nearly 200 years, should be promoted to Cathedral status.   

The Pro-Cathedral is in the Archdiocese of Dublin, which is currently undergoing a process to select one of either the Pro-Cathedral or St. Andrew’s in Westland Row to be assigned Cathedral status. As it stands, the Archdiocese of Dublin does not have a Cathedral. If the Pro-Cathedral is not selected to gain Cathedral Status, it will be assigned Basilica Status.  

Senator Fitzpatrick said: “St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral is a jewel of Dublin’s North Inner City. It has served churchgoers, visitors, tourists, and Dubliners of all walks of life for almost 200 years. Its history combined with its importance to the surrounding community in the northside and indeed across the entire city make it a natural choice for it to serve as Dublin’s Cathedral.” 

St. Mary’s is a pro-cathedral, meaning that it is transitorily serving as a Catholic cathedral, because when Christ Church Cathedral was built, it was acknowledged as a Catholic cathedral before the reformation period when it was transformed into an Anglican church. Since there can only be one cathedral per city, St Mary’s can only become a cathedral when the Pope revokes Christ Church’s title. 

Senator Fitzpatrick continues: “Additionally, in the wider context of inner-city regeneration, the investment from the Archdiocese and Dublin City Council that comes with being assigned Cathedral Status would reaffirm the Pro-Cathedral’s vital importance as a hub for community support and integration. It also, perhaps more importantly, provides an opportunity to give a vote of confidence to the ongoing efforts to tackle anti-social behaviour in the area and ensure the surrounding streets are safe, accessible, and well maintained.  

“It is vitally important that all those in the local community respond to the ongoing consultation by the Archdiocese and voice their support for the Pro-Cathedral to gain Cathedral status.” 

The Pro-Cathedral has a rich history dating back to the Penal Laws, which restricted the rights of Catholics and religious minorities in Ireland from the 1600’s to the 1800’s. During this period Catholic churches were usually hidden and small. By 1803, many of the Penal Laws had already been repealed and Archbishop John Thomas Troy bought Lord Annesley’s townhouse on the corner of Marlborough Street and Elephant Lane, now Cathedral Street, with the intent of building a new pro-cathedral, and later building a full cathedral when funds became available. In 1814 the townhouse was demolished and for the next 11 years the pro-cathedral was constructed.  

The Pro-Cathedral soon became a symbol for Irish Nationalism and Daniel O’Connell was present at a special thanksgiving High Mass in the Pro-Cathedral in 1829 following the granting of Catholic Emancipation, marking the end of the Penal Laws. 

St. Mary’s was not originally intended to be a full cathedral, but no plans to find a replacement ever got off the ground. 

Many important historical events occurred at St. Mary’s including the religious ceremony for the Presidents of Ireland up until 1983, and the funerals of figures such as, Micheal Collins, Éamon de Valera, and Seán T. O’Kelly. Additionally, Pope Francis visited the Pro-Cathedral on August 25th 2018, during an apostolic visit to Ireland. 

If you want to express your views on the possible changes you can send your hopes and concerns to the Cathedral Administrator by post to St. Mary’s Pro-Cathedral, 83 Marlborough Street, Dublin 1, D01 TX49 or via email at [email protected] 

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