Cathedral Chronicles

Cathedral Chronicles is a podcast series telling the story of Newry Cathedral. Each episode will tell the story of the cathedral in short instalments as it approaches its bicentenary in 2029. We’ll meet the people who built it. We’ll discover its works of art from Italian mosaic to German stained glass. We’ll learn about an assassination, fires and bombs that threatened to destroy it.

A team of volunteers who have been researching the history of Newry Cathedral for many years are behind the podcast series, which is available on SpotifyGoogle PodcastsApple Podcasts and seven other leading podcast services.

The team includes the cathedral tour guides Micheál Murphy, Louis Spencer, Desmond McMahon, Edmund Murtagh and Dalton Short (Cathedral Sacristan) and Mark Byrne, a doctoral candidate from Queen’s University, who will produce the series. The series will also feature regular guest contributors. The first episode features Newry historian, Anthony Russell. 

Some members of the team behind the podcast. L-R: Desmond McMahon, Louis Spencer, Micheál Murphy, Mark Byrne

Each episode will tell the story of the cathedral in short instalments. We’ll meet the people who built it. We’ll discover its works of art from Italian mosaic to German stained glass. We’ll learn about an assassination, fires and bombs that threatened to destroy it.

Visit the podcast website to find the link to the series for your favourite podcast service. https://anchor.fm/cathedralchronicles

Cathedral Chronicles Episode 1: Forbidden Faith

In episode one, we will learn about a time when catholic worship in Ireland was restricted and at times even forbidden. We’ll hear how the faithful gathered in the secrecy of the countryside, at the risk of severe punishment, even death, to celebrate Mass together. We’ll discover how, as the repression waned, a period of church-building began that would lead to the construction of a cathedral.

Cathedral Chronicles Episode 2: The Architect

In episode one, we heard how the foundation stone had been laid and building work on the cathedral was finally underway. In this episode we pause to tell the story of the cathedral architect, Thomas J. Duff. It is a story of great triumph and terrible tragedy.

Cathedral Chronicles Episode 3: Emancipation, Dedication, Consternation 

In this episode we will learn about the building of the cathedral, what it looked like when it was dedicated, compared how it looks today, and we will hear about a controversy that arose in the House of Commons as a result of that dedication service.

Cathedral Chronicles Episode 4: A Genius For Dilapidation

In this episode we will hear about a visit to Newry of Daniel O’Connell and a controversial meeting held by Bishop Michael Blake at the cathedral in O’Connell’s honour. We’ll learn how, just over a decade after its dedication, the cathedral was in such a state of dilapidation that it drew public criticism from the English novelist, William Makepeace Thackeray. We will discover how the Bishop responded to Thackeray’s criticism by conducting further work on the cathedral by the Newry architect W.J Barre. We’ll meet the Dominican, Dr Pius Leahy, the Bishop of Dromore who did not want the job.

Cathedral Chronicles Episode 5: Secrets Of The Tower

In this episode, we will begin to explore the second building scheme that made monumental additions to Newry Cathedral between 1888 to 1892. We’ll share newly uncovered details of the scheme, that were not included in any of the previously published histories of the cathedral, thanks to research by Dalton Short. The scheme added two transepts, a new sacristy, a magnificent bell tower and much more. We’ll take you behind the scenes, inside the bell tower, where we’ll find a collection of artefacts dating back to the earliest days of the cathedral. We’ll learn about Bishop Thomas McGivern who oversaw the work and the prolific Cork architect George Coppinger Ashlin who designed the improvements.

Cathedral Chronicles Episode 6: The Way Of The Cross

In this episode we will finish telling the story of the second great building phase of the cathedral. We’ll solve the mysteries of the bricked-up doorway in the tower and the buried archway under the transept. We’ll learn how they built the transepts despite having very limited space available and we’ll find out who made the pulpit, high altar and communion railings.

Cathedral Chronicles Bonus Episode: The Dominicans in Newry

In this episode, the local historian, Anthony Russell, will explore the 150-year story of the Dominicans in Newry. From humble beginnings with a community of just five men living in a small house on Hyde Market to the building of the magnificent Church of The Sacred Heart and Saint Catherine of Sienna in the 19th century. We’ll learn how, in the 20thcentury, the Dominicans adapted to the reforms of the second Vatican council and how they reached out to other denominations. And we’ll hear how, more recently, they established a new lectio centre and how they dealt with the challenges of the pandemic.

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