03 September 2005

Council to rule on bishop's plans for cathedral changes -

Irish Independent

AN eight-year battle that has pitted conservationists and Church traditionalists against the Bishop of Cloyne's plans to alter the inside of historic St Colman's Cathedral in Cobh, could be resolved next week when local planning authorities give a decision.

Bishop John Magee wants to make internal changes to conform better to the requirements of the modern Mass. Traditionalists want the interior to remain almost as it has been since it was built more than 100 years ago - and conservationists consider it an architectural masterpiece. Since the diocese formally applied for permission to make changes six weeks ago, Cobh Town Council has received more than 200 objections. This is in addition to 24,000 protest signatures against the plan six years ago.

One of those leading the opposition is independent councillor, Sean O'Connor. Objections have also been received from An Taisce, the Irish Georgian Society and the Pugin Society.

Augustus Pugin is regarded as one of the foremost architects of the 19th century and he helped design the cathedral in the 1860s.

The changes proposed by Bishop Magee, which are likely to cost several million euro, include removing a large section of the altar rails, extending the sanctuary area which will cover 85 feet of mosaic floor, and replacing the present altar, installed in the 1960s.

Traditionalists object particularly strongly to the removal of a section of the altar rails

The bishop says the interior of the cathedral must be "re-ordered" to suit the requirements of the New Mass, one element of which is people receiving Communion standing before the priest.

It is likely that however next Friday's decision goes, it will be appealed.

David Quinn,
Religious and Social Affairs Correspondent

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