The Folklore of St Mary’s Cathedral
By Sharon Slater.
By Sharon Slater.
St Mary’s Cathedral is one of the most photographed buildings in Limerick city and is the oldest still used for its intended purpose.
The Cathedral of Saint Mary Blessed Virgin has had a long and eventful history. It was founded in 1168 on the site of a palace donated by Donal Mor O’Brien, King of Munster.
The palace had been built on the site of the Viking meeting house. This had been the centre of government in the early medieval Viking city.
Unsurprisingly with a building of its age much folklore has sprung up around St Mary’s Cathedral, including the tale of the bell maker and that of the eavesdropping crows.
It is said that in 1651 after Oliver Cromwell’s forces captured the city the Cathedral was used as a stable by the parliamentary army. Luckily the Cathedral survived this event relatively unscathed.
In 1888 a tale reached New Zealand, it told of a meeting held in the Cathedral to discuss the removal of some large elm trees in the grounds. During the course of the meeting loud chatter from the crows who had built their nests in these trees could be heard outside. When the meeting broke up it was noticed that the birds had relocated their nests to trees not set for destruction.
In another story tells how the bells of the Cathedral arrived in the city from Italy. They had been designed for an Italian monastery but after a war the monastery was destroyed and the bells removed. The creator of the bells after failing in both his personal and business life set out to find the bells. Following an extensive search arrived in Limerick only to hear the chimes of the bells and to pass away instantly from pure delight.