Clare County Library
Clare Places: Towns & Villages
Home | Library Catalogue | Forums | Foto | Maps | Archaeology | History | Search this Website | Copyright Notice | Visitors' Book | Contact Us | What's New

Ennis Cathedral Ennis

In 1735, the catholics of Ennis built a solid chapel in a laneway which soon got the name Chapel Lane. Although the penal laws were still rigidly enforced catholics were allowed to practice as long as they did so unobstrusively.

By the early years of the nineteenth century, the Chapel Lane building was too small and too awkward to gain access to. In 1821, a parochial meeting was held at which it was decided to build a new chapel. Seven years later, in January 1828, Francis Gore, a Protestant, donated a fine site on the edge of the town asking only a nominal rent. Shortly after he had got the site, Dean Terence O’ Shaughnessy issued instructions for its design : “The Chapel is to be 120 feet in length and fifty feet wide, the T to be 100 feet by 60. The elevation of the building to be in proportion”. The architects were quick to respond and by July 1828, a plan was selected.

The Cathedral was not built overnight. Its construction was bedevilled with difficulties, but in late 1828 work on the Cathedral began. However, shortly after its commencement work had to halt due to financial troubles. Work did not restart until three years later in 1831.

In this year a determined effort was made to tackle the project’s serious financial troubles. Generous subscriptions were received from many Protestant landlords, including 100 pounds from Sir Edward O’Brien, 50 pounds and the promise of an altar - piece from Rome from Vesely Fitzgerald. The walls now began to rise but work again ground to a halt. During the entire 1830’s period, the project was beset with difficulties. Finance was no sooner raised and work no sooner commenced than work stopped due to the exhausting of funds.

Also in September 1837, a serious accident on site resulted in the death of two workers and two more being seriously injured.

Finally in September 1842, Dean Terence O’Shaughnessy said the first mass, though the building was far from complete. It was a great moment for the then eighty - two year old parish priest. It was also a great moment for his parishioners, who although living in extreme poverty, made very significant donations to it’s construction cost.

On 26th February 1843, the new church was blessed and placed under the patronage of Saints Peter and Paul. After the blessing of the chapel, there was still much to do but all work ceased with the beginning of the famine. In 1848, Dean O’ Shaughnessy died after the famine. His successor, Dean John Kenny, continued the work. It was not until 1894 that the church was completely finished.


Places of Interest in Ennis