The most beautiful churches in Ireland

Clonfert Cathedral, photo by Aidan Clarke

Religion has long been an important part of Irish cultural identity, and while that doesn’t mean that religion is a common small talk topic at the pub, anyone who has traveled to Ireland can see that religious architecture and places with spiritual meaning are quite easy to find wherever you go. Even if you are interested in churches only as far as architecture goes, there are a lot of religious buildings that can catch the eye of the traveler in Ireland. Century old churches in a variety of styles, magnificent ruins that have lost their luster but not their charm and even modern buildings with sleek lines are bound to make your Irish trip more interesting, so here are some of the most beautiful churches in Ireland.

Clonfert Cathedral, Clonfert, Co Galway

The Clonfert Cathedral started out as a monastery established by St Brendan in the 6th century AD (this is actually where the saint is buried). Until the 16th century, it was one of the most famous monastic schools in the British Isles. Some parts of the current church date back to the 12th century, and its intricate doorway is seen to be one of the finest examples of Hiberno-Romanesque style.

Sacred Heart Church, Roscommon, Co Roscommon

The whole skyline of the pretty town of Roscommon is dominated by the Sacred Heart church, whose tallest spire reaches 52 meters. The church is fairly new, and was finished in 1925, all of it made of local stone. The best thing about this church is the mosaic over the front door, but the inside is no less impressive – there’s even a replica of the famous Cross of Cong.

College Chapel, Maynooth, Co Kildare

The chapel of St Patrick’s College in Maynooth is one of the hidden gems of this town, and one that most people never expected to see in such a place. The church’s interior is absolutely stunning, and few people know that it is one of the largest choir chapels in the world, with over 300 choir seats.

Church of St Anne, Cork, Co Cork

The Church of Saint Anne is one of the most distinctive landmarks of the city, perched on a hill overlooking River Lee. St Anne’s is not only one of the most beautiful churches in Ireland, but also famous for its eight 6-ton bells, as well as its clock, which Corkonians call “The Four Faced Liar” because each face of the clock shows a slightly different time.

St. Michan’s Church, Dublin

St. Michan’s Church was built on the site of an ancient Danish chapel, and it is though to be one of the only buildings with Viking foundations to survive to this day. The current church dates back to the 17th century, and although the outside is a bit bleak, don’t be deceived – the interior sports some exquisite woodwork and an impressive organ.

 

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