Re: Re: reordering and destruction of irish cathedrals – St Colmans Cathedral, Cobh
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In reply to Anto:
1. Graiguenamanagh seem to me rather disastrous. From what I can see the altar has been placed on a landing pad under the crossing. Its circular base takes no notice of the rectangular lines of the building, nor indeed of the rather harsh limestone block that serves as an altar.
Graiguenamanagh is a Cistercian monastic church. It would originally have had a monastic choir in antiphonal arrangement (a true one this time) in the space immediately in front of the altar area. Both areas would have been closed off by a screen. Clearly, the present arrangement takes no account of this historical spacial arrangement and consequently, like the Ringkirche in Wiesbaden and many of the so-called re-ordered cchurches and Cathedrals of Ireland, suffers the imposition on it of something it was never intened to contain.
The 1974 restoration was carried out by Percy leClerc. The roof of Irish oak is certainly praiseworthy and authentic. I am not sure that lifting the plaster from the walls can be described as a “restoration”. It is much more likely that they had plastering which was either white washed or frescoed. The removal of the plaster in 1974 smacks of the horrible fashion set by the sack and pillage of Killarney Cathedral. I think that we can take it that if A.W. N. Pugin believed that the Salisbury interior should inspire Killarney, then it should have been white washed and stencilled.
We are told that the new altar was raised on four steps. This is a solecism as principal Altars always had three steps representing the ascent to Calvery or indeed the Old Testament ascent to Jerusalem which we find in the Hallel psalms. Mr. le Clerc offers no explaination for his choice of four (an even number which tended to be avoided). Placing the Altar outside of the East end of the church is of course at complete variance with the whole design of the church and especially insensitive to its line. Placing the Altar in the East end and facing East both have theological significane and meaning – which is shared with the Jews – and is a direct theological reference to the Temple in Jerusalem which has been re-interpreted by the Gospel to mean Jesus Christ, the place in which, as St. John’s Gospel puts it, worship in spirit and in truth is given. There is no theological significance to exposing one’s sefl to the four winds – or worse. Indeed, I am thinking of doing something on the history of Altars in Christian worship, but I may leave it until after Christmas. As far as I can see, leading re-orders such as R. Hurley and Cathal O’Neill know absolutely nothing about the subject if we are to judge from their efforts. From the photographs of Duiske Abbey, the benches leave much to be desired and are not of the quality of their midevial surrpondings. The central heating radiators along the walls are fairly brutal and I am not sure whether the floors have been covered in carpet. The chair at the altar is a mess and looks more like a commode. The ambo is likewise somewhat out of place.