Being in Carlow worth taking a moment and see the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (called Cathedral of the Assumption) – this is a Roman Catholic cathedral, the main temple of the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin located in Carlow. The Cathedral is built in neo-Gothic style. It is known particularly for its beautiful high tower, which makes it one of the highest points in the town. The tower is 46 meters high, and its appearance was inspired by the cloth hall in Burges, Belgium.
The Cathedral of the Assumption is both the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin and the parish church for the Cathedral parish. Located in Carlow town, the cathedral was dedicated to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1833.
The foundation stone of the Cathedral was laid on 18 March 1828 by Bishop James Doyle. The Cathedral of the Assumption is the second oldest Roman Catholic cathedral built in Ireland, after the Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity, Waterford, built in 1793.
The Cathedral is built next door to St. Patrick’s, Carlow College, the former seminary of the Diocese. Architect Thomas Cobden, designer of much of the adjacent college, designed the cathedral, in the Gothic Revival style. The tower and lantern was inspired by the Belfry of Bruges, Belgium.
Two previous churches had stood on this site, the first dating to the late 1780s, but by the early 19th century, with Catholics more willing to congregate in the open, numbers were swelling and a new building was required. Funds of £9,000 pounds raised by Carlow parishioners for the cathedral’s construction, which was a huge sum at that time.
In 1833, construction of the Gothic cathedral for £ 9,000 was completed. The structure is dedicated to Bishop Doyle, who died the year after it opened and lies interred in its walls. Inside, there is also a memorial statue to the Bishop, created by John Hogan and considered his greatest achievement.
The cathedral features many remarkable stained glass windows, including a depiction of Saint Patrick preaching to Ireland’s Gaelic Kings. The window was created by German company Franz Mayer & Co. of Munich in the 19th century. The church also contains original pieces of furniture such as the bishop’s chair and stalls. John Hogan, an Irish sculptor, has created an impressive set of marble sculpted figures that are housed here.
Extensive refurbishment was carried out in 1899 under Bishop Michael Comerford. A carved oak pulpit was designed by C.J. Buckley of Youghal and made in Bruges in 1898. The ornately carved pulpit is now in the Carlow County Museum.
Location of Carlow Cathedral of the Assumption: