Visiting St Anne's Church, Cork

St Anne

Cork, Co Cork

The Church of Saint Anne stands in the Shandon district and overlooks Cork city. It’s a postcard-worthy icon of Ireland’s second city and is featured in the famous song, The Bells of Shandon, by Francis Sylvester Mahoney (Father Prout).

The church has a long and involved history. The area in which it is located – Shandon – is an adaptation of the old Irish word for ‘old fort’ (‘sean dun’), and this points to the fact this area has been inhabited in one form or another for ages. The North Cathedral, as it is also known, is situated at the upper end up Shandon Street and dates to the 19th century. However, a medieval church of St Mary also stood on this site. It’s referenced in documents left by Pope Innocent III in the 12th century.

The Siege of Cork in the late 17th century destroyed that cathedral, and a new church of St Mary was built down the road on Mallow Lane. A population boom led to rebuilding a church on the original site, which left us with the foundations of the structure seen today. 

Ringing the bells

The famous Bells of Shandon are kept in a 170-foot tower (if the pepper pot adornment at the top is included). The salmon-shaped weather vane on top of the pepper pot represents fishing in the river Lee.

Bear in mind that admission to the Church of St Anne is free, as this remains an active place of worship. However, getting a close-up view of the bells requires paying a few Euro per head. Visitors can ring the bells at the bottom of the tower and then proceed up the stairs for impressive panoramic views of Cork city.

Connect with St Anne’s Church on Facebook.

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