Cork Past & Present
Cork's history, culture, places, people, and events
An early stage of construction work is shown in this photograph. The photograph was most likely taken sometime in 1865.
A very early photograph, showing John Gregg, Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross, laying the foundation stone of Saint Fin Barre's Cathedral on 12 January 1865. The famous Victorian architect William Burges designed the cathedral, which was consecrated in 1870. The spires and towers were not completed until 1879.
Bishop John Gregg is the partially bald man to the lower left of centre facing the majority of the crowd. He was born on 4 August 1798 at Cappa, near Ennis, County Clare. He was ordained a priest at Kildare in 1827 and was consecrated as Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross in Christ Church, Dublin, on 16 February 1862. His son Robert Samuel Gregg succeeded him as bishop in 1878.
Another photograph of the ceremony at the laying of the foundation stone of St. Fin Barre's Cathedral. During the ceremony a jar containing memorials was deposited in a hollowed out chamber of the foundation stone. The Cork Examiner of 13 January 1865 reported that the jar contained the following : 'The records and memorials of the old church; a specimen of each present coin of the realm; a copy of each of the local newspapers as well as a Cork almanac for 1865. These were deposited in the chamber by the churchwarden Mr. James A. Harley....After the churchwarden had deposited the records the Deputy Provincial Grand Master of Munster, applying the golden square and level to the stone said ; " My Lord Bishop, the stone has been proved and found to be 'fair work and square work' and fit to be laid as the foundation stone of this Holy Temple".' After this, Bishop Gregg spread cement over the stone with a trowel specially made for the occasion by John Hawkesworth, a silversmith and a jeweller. He then gave the stone three knocks with a mallet and declared the stone to be 'duly and truly laid'.
A photograph of the laying of the foundation stone of St. Fin Barre's Cathedral. The Deputy Provincial Grand Master of Munster poured offerings of corn, oil and wine over the stone after Bishop Gregg had declared it to be 'duly and truly laid'. The Provincial Grand Chaplain of the Masonic Order in Munster then read out the following prayer : 'May the Great Architect of the universe enable us as successfully to carry out and finish this work. May He protect the workmen from danger and accident, and long preserve the structure from decay; and may He grant us all our needed supply, the corn of nourishment, the wine of refreshment, and the oil of joy, Amen. So mote it be.' The choir and congregation then sang the hundredth psalm.
A photograph showing the crowd gathered for the ceremony of the laying of the foundation stone of St. Fin Barre's Cathedral on 12 January 1865.