On a recent visit to Belfast I was walking past St. Ann's Cathedral en-route to another place and it suddenly dawned on me that I had bever actually been inside it. This surprised me as I spent the first 28 years of my life on Northern Ireland and 10 of those in Belfast itself. Although not religious now, I was brought up in the Anglican faith and this is the major place of worship for that religion in my "home town" so how did the situation arise? Frankly I have no idea but I determined myself to rectify the situation and I am very glad I did.
After the obligatory VT outside photo, I entered the Cathedral (use the door to the left as you look at the front). I was immediately greeted by a very friendly member of staff who offered to answer any questions I might have and suggested a few things worthy of looking at. I basically described a clockwise path round the Cathedral and this is the order I shall mention points of interest.
The first thing you will come to is the fairly small Chapel of the Holy Spirit, consecrated in 1932 on the 1500th anniversary of St. Patrick bringing Christianity to Ireland. the main feature here is the very intricate mosaic work depicting Patrick's arrival and it is well worth a few minutes just to appreciate the amount of work that went into it.
As you walk round don't forget to look up which is a thing I often say when decribing places. the tops (capitals) off all the large pillars depict all manner of things from ancients Celtic scenes to medicine, scientists like Sir Isaac Newton, music, shipbuilding naturally and even one depicting Freemasonic symbols.
Walking towards the altar, the next thing on the left is the Regimental Chapel of the Royal Irish Rangers and Royal Irish Regiment, including the Regiments which preceeded them before almalgamations etc., including the Ulster Defence Regiment. The Chapel is relatively new, having only been cnsecrated in 1981. There are numerous things to look at here including a list of Victoria Cross recipients from the Regiments, a Roll of Honour and even a prayerbook made from ricepaper by a prisoner of war during the Korean War. As is usual in such places, there are various Regimental Colours laid up here as well. I was particularly impressed by the stained glass window (pictured) which incorporates the Regimental badges of the units involved and the famous Binyon verse.
Appropriately, just beside the Regimental Chapel there is a memorial stained glass window on the theme of peace dedicated to the Royal Ulster Constabulary (G.C.) which was the police force in Northern Ireland from 1922 - 2001. The Colours of the RUC(GC) are also laid up here.
Carrying on in your clockwise direction you can actually do quite a remarkable thing, which is to walk behind the High Altar. This is not that usual in Anglican Churches but it allows you to walk unbhindered from the North to South aisles wothout distrubing a service which may be taking place. Things to look for here, amopngst others, are a memorial for the Kegworth air disaster when many Northern Ireland people perished and a Cross of Nails made with nails from the fabric of Coventry Cathedral in England after it was destroyed by German bombing in the Second World War.
As you complete the ambulatory (the area behind the altar), you may want to deviate slightly to have a look at the choir which is the central portion of the Cathedral raised up the steps. You may notice an interesting thing in that there are two Bishop's Chairs. This is unique in the Anglican Church as St. Anne's is indeed the "home" church for two Bishops, those of Connor and Down and Dromore. That is not three Bishops, Down and Dromore is one Diocese.
You are now in the South aisle and the first thing you will see is the Chapel of Unity completed in 1974. The theme here is ecumenism and regular inter-faith meetings take place here which, in a place like Northern Ireland, can surely only be a good thing. The stained glass windows represent various youth organisations. On the wall just beside the Chapel of Unity is a fascinating piece of needlework which is a memorial pall for the victims of the Titanic Disaster. It was particularly poignant as I visited in 2012, exactly 100 years after that tragedy. If you look closely you will see 1517 gold crosses, Stars of David and crescents to represent the 1517 people lost and their varying religious faiths (Chritianity, Judaism and Islam respectively). although modern and therefore with little history I was very taken with this pice and did spend some time looking at it. I suggest you do the same just to appreciate the intricacy of the work contained in it.
Just past the pall you will come to a tomb which is unusually the only one in the whole Cathedral. Most other cathedrals have numerous tombs to the "great and the good". This may be partially due to the fact that St. Anne's was only actually consecrated in 1904 and the practice was probably less prevalent. The tomb is that of Lord Edward Carson of Duncairn who was the political leader in Northern Ireland between 1911 - 1921 in the very turbulent times leading up to the partition of Ireland. The simple stone, marked only Carson, is of Mourne granite.
Continuing, you will come to the Baptistry with it's font of black, red and white marble quarried in various parts of Ireland. I always tell people to look up but it is worth looking down here at the very intricate marble mosaic work on the floor.
Walk back to the main door (which will probably be shut) and you will nearly have completed your circuit but pause a while at the rear of the central passageway and have a look all the way up the Cathedral. Then, look down again. That is twice in one tip, unheard of behaviour for me! Two things to note. One is the tiled labyrinth on the floor. If you study it or even walk it you will find that the white path (goodness) will eventually lead you to the main aisle but the black path leads nowhere. Keep looking doen and look at the floor towards the High Altar. You will see that the floor is extremely uneven and this is due to subsidence. The entire building, although barely over a century old, is sinking into the alluvial ooze on which it is built. This is already causing problems that are going to be expensive to fix so, whilst it is free to enter the Cathedral, your donations are very much appreciated and £2 is the suggested amount.
Here are the other logistics. The Cathedral is open from 8.00 am to 4.00 pm seven days a week, but may occasionally be closed for a special service. It is always closed to tourists from 11:00 to 12:30 on Sundays for the Sung Eucharist service. The Cathedral is fully wheelchair accessible.
Obviously I can only display five images here due to the way the website operates and I had gone on a bit of a shutter frenzy in the Cathedral so I have put further images on this travelogue. Please feel free to take a look.
ST ANNE'S SITS IN BELFASTS CATHEDRAL QUARTER.
THE FOUNDATION STONE FOR THIS LOVELY BUILDING WAS LAID IN 1899.
ST ANNE'S IS ALSO WELL KNOWN FOR MAKING THE NEWS EVERY CHRISTMAS WHEN THE DEAN OF THE CATHEDRAL SITS OUT ON THE STEPS OF THE CHURCH EVERY DAY OF THE WEEK BEFORE CHRISTMAS. THIS TRADITION WAS STARTED BY DEAN SAMMY CROOKS IN 1976.
DRESSED IN A BLACK ANGLICAN CLOAK HE EARNED THE NICKNAME BLACK SANTA.
SINCE 1976 SOME 2.2 MILLION HAS BEEN RAISED FOR LOCAL CHARITIES.
IN APRIL 2007 THE SPIRE OF HOPE WAS PUT IN PLACE ON THE ROOF OF THE CATHEDRAL..
THIS 100M SPIRE WILL BE ILLUMINATED AT NIGHT AND WILL BE VISABLE FROM ALL OVER THE CITY.. THE SPIRE SHOULD BE COMPLETED BY JUNE THIS YEAR.
THE CATHEDRAL IS OPEN TO VISITORS FROM 10AM-4PM WEEKDAYS
AND FOR A SHORT TIME BEFORE AND AFTER SERVICES ON A SUNDAY.
This is one of the most famous buildings in Belfast, and well worth visiting.It succeeds a previous Parish Church, named after Anne, wife of the 5th Earl of Donegall.
The construction of this Protestant Cathedral was begun in 1898. It was consecrated in 1904, but various parts have been added since.
Here you can admire impressive mosaics and delightful stained-glass windows (some on Celtic themes), listen to one of Ireland's largest church organs... The Cathedral also has the largest Celtic Cross in Ireland.
The Cathedral Choir sings on Sunday at 11am and 3.30pm (excluding July and August).
St Anne's Cathedral has impressive stained glass windows, and figures of Courage, Agriculture, and Justice. There are four Archangels around the nave, Michael, Gabriel, Uriel and Raphael. The tops of the pillars depict Courage, Science, Commerce, Healing, Agriculture, Music, Justice, Masonry, Arts, Women?s Work, and Wisdom. Baptismal area contains an amazing mosaic of The Creation. Made of over 150,000 pieces of glass, it shows the four elements, Fire, Earth, Air and Water.
It was built between 1898-1904
St Ann Cathedral is a beautiful building in Belfast to visit if you love the architecture. It is the anglican cathedral of the city and was begun in 1899. It has the best of all the movements of the XX Century Arts and Crafts.
Begun in 1898, the cathedral has a beautiful baptistry with a ceiling made of 150,000 pieces of glass.
Check out this gorgeous church. It's located right across from a recently-renovated promenade with a great view.