Re: Re: reordering and destruction of irish cathedrals – St Colmans Cathedral, Cobh
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Mosaics from the chancel of the Church of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, Charleville, Co. Cork
Charleville church is not aligned because of its location. The chancel is at the west end of the church. The entire west wall is covered with an incredibly elaborate mosaic of the Coronation of Our Lady divided into three main sections:
1. Ground level to the string course below the west window showing: subdivided into two sections: a. an arcade in mosaic work rising to about four feet (now unfortunately submerged since tons of concrete were poured into the chancel floor to raise the level); b. above the arcade, three panels; one to the left of the alter dipecting the tree of knowledge, supported by two of the tetramorphe; a panel behind the altar which is of geometric sections; and a thrid panel to the right of the altar depicting the Rosa Mystica held up by the other two tetramorphe.
2. The second section occupies the entire area above the lower window string course up to the attic which is not occupied by the west window. It consists of two monumental figures. On the left, Christ seated in majesty (with all of the attributes that we have spoken about in relation to medieval tympana); and on the right Our Lady, similarly seated in majesty, depicted in pose of humility.
3. The attic above the west window is occupied by three roundels; on the left, the monogram for Christos; the middle depicting God the Father and the Holy Ghost; the left depicting the monogram of Maria.
The High Altar is of the best quality Carrara marble and, mercifully, has managed to avoid demolition (so far). The antependium has a very finely worked panel depicting Leonardo’s Last Supper. Unlike nearby Kilmallock, nobody thought of knocking off the finials of the fleurions on the reredos.
The preservation of the interior of Charleville Church through all of the iconoclasm of the 1970s and 1980s is due to the enlightened and cultivated Parish Priest, Canon Dan Murphy, who gallantly resisted the huns at the door and all pressure from the “liturgical establishment” until overtaken by old age. His successor, Seamus Corkery, wrecked the interior of this fine church by extending the sanctuary towards the nave and increasing the floor level which was then paved, incredibly, with black limestone flags. Worst of all, the Sacred Heart Chapel to the right of the main sanctuary was gutted, its altar stripped out, its magnificent floor in red mosaic (reminiscent of the floor of the Sacred Heart Chapel in Cobh Cathedral) partially concreted and totally obscured by a carpet. It was converted to a baptistry which has since seen its font moved elsewhere in the church, rendering the entire exercise a mindless act of vandalism. In recent times, the statue of the Sacred Heart that originally stood on the praedella of the altar in the chapel has found his way back from obscurity but has been planked on a floor of the chapel. The whole thing looks stupid. The pulpit is believed to be in a local barn. The ornamental brass gates of the mortuary chapel (probably by McGloughlin) now adorn the shop frontage of a public house on the main street of Charleville. Again, it is easy to understand why the Historic Church Commission of the diocese of Cloyne could have recommended Cathal O’Neill’s savagery for Cobh Cathedral when the wrecker of Charleville Church, Seamus Corkery, was a member of that committee and made the recommendation to vandalize the interior of St. Colman’s Cathedral. Probably the most devastating thing to happen in Charleville was the destruction of the mosaic floor of the chancel which was of the same standard and an intergral part of the overall decorative scheme of the sancturary of the church.