Re: Re: Brother Michael Augustine O’Riordan

Home Forums Ireland Brother Michael Augustine O’Riordan Re: Re: Brother Michael Augustine O’Riordan


Here we are!

Praxiteles has been sent a brief schedule of the works for the “conservation” and alteration to St. Finbarr’s Church, Bantry, Co. Cork and it makes for none too reassuring reading.

Unfortunately, it appears that the person who put this piece together is not exactly expert on Brother O’Riordan’s opus even in its vestigial. It is quite astounding that the author of this document should describe Brother O’Riordan’s church in Bantry as being “designed in the neo-classical style”. A little research would have made it clear to the author that a neo-clasically designed church in 1826 would have meant a church in a neo-grecian style -such as the Pro-Cathedral in Dublin or St. Andrew’s in Westland Row, or St. Francis Xavier in Gradnier Street.

Unfortunately, the author of the learned piece under discussion does not seem to know that the 18th century neo-classical movement underwent a profound change as a result of the excavations at Herculaneum encountered by Robert Adam and others after 1758. The result of that evolution was the so-called grecian style.

Brother O’Riordan’s work is more accurately describe as neo-palladian. When he built his series of churches throughout Co. Cork in the first half ot the 19th. century his style was already somewhat “old fashioned” and had more in common with the churches build a hundred earlier by James Gibbs in England during the reign of Queen Anne.

It has also been amply illustrated in this thread that Br. O’Riordan’s design details derive from Andrea Palladio and Sebastiano Serlio, and perhaps also from Juan de Herrera and Juan de Villanueva. There is nothing of Robert Adam in his designs.

Praxitelex would also draw attention to the proposal to rempve the picture of the Crucifixion from its focal position above the main Altar. This would be the ultmate act of vandalism in this church. This thread has clearly shown that such crucifixion pictures (usually copies of the 17th. century masters Reni, Rubens or Van Dyck) are central to a complex arrangement of the sanctuary involving a central High Altar flanked by two side altars and access to a retro-sacristy. If the present picture in Bantry is in poor condition, then the obvious thing to do is to have it restored and should its restoration not prove feasable, then a suitably large copy a crucifixion by Rubens or Reni should be commissioned to replace it. A model is readily available in the chapel of the Ursuline Convent in Blackrock in Cork. The idea of placing a “simple golden cross” on the rear wall behind the High Alar simply will not work – as is clear from the frescoed “golden cross” behind the High Altar in St. Patrick’s, Dunmanway.

The idea that “the ‘Lamb of God’ is the focal point of this entire church” is a piece of piocious clap-trap to be dismissed as risable by anyone who knows anything about a sanctuary arrangement in a neo-palladian church which all derive from Andrea Palladio’s designs for the chapel of the Ospedaletto di Santa Maria dei derelitti ai Santi Giovanni e Paolo in Venice done in 1575. While the original has not survived as built, it would still be useful for some public-spirited charity to subsidise a trip to Venice for the author of this document in the hope that he MIGHT learn something.

Also, the altar rail is an essential component of the building and of Br. O’Riordan’s original design and no excuse exists for its destruction.

Again, the proposals for the paint scheme in the church are deplorably dismissive of any interest in discovering what the origial scheme might have looked like and of restoring it.

It would also have been a good idea at this point to remove the monstrosity intruded into the interior of Bantry Church by Boyd Barrett – a worthy notable for his destruction of John Hogan’s Retable and monument to Bishop John Murphy in the North Cathedral in Cork!

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