The biggest Catholic Church in the city and the seat of the Bishop of the local diocese, Galway Cathedral is an iconic and famous landmark of western Ireland and a site of historical significance. It was the last church in the country made of stone, containing a combination of architectural styles, from Gothic windows to Renaissance towers and Romanesque nave arches. Also called the Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven and St Nicholas, the grand church contributes significantly to the skyline of Galway and defines the city and their cultural identity and heritage.
A prominent feature of the cathedral’s exterior appearance is the 44-metre high dome as its core, although the intricate designs inside are equally remarkable with the roof and walls full of artwork. Inside Galway Cathedral, a mosaic depicting the crucifixion stands behind the altar, with similarly impressive pipe organs near to it being over 70 years old with 59 speaking stops and still in use during services today. Artists have beautifully decorated the cathedral with a grand statue of the Virgin Mary, attractive bronze handles that garnish the western doorway and Gabriel Hayes’ Stations of the Cross on the walls. The floor is just as elaborate as the walls and ceiling made of Connemara marble, while the colours and shadows created by rose and stain glass windows light the space beautifully.
Visitors can quickly reach Galway Cathedral by foot from the centre of the city, which is only 10 minutes from Eyre Square, and many buses also travel to the site taking visitors over the river to the church. It is also only 1 kilometre from Galway Central train station and merely a 15-minute drive from Galway Airport, which also has public transport links into the city.
Completed in 1965 and seven years after construction began, Galway Cathedral is a relatively young church that just celebrated their 50th birthday. The building material of the Cathedral is mainly sourced from the local land, made of limestone, and reveals the connection of the cathedral to Ireland. The site of Galway Cathedral is the former grounds of the city jail from 1810, with a stone cross outside its doors marking the remembrance of the old jail graveyard and the Irish history.