Dublin to finally get a Catholic Cathedral - but it may be on the southside

St Andrew’s Church on Westland Row identified as best site while Pro-Cathedral to become basilica

Dublin’s Pro-Cathedral, which has served Catholics in the capital for nearly 200 years, may be about to lose its current status and become a basilica under a diocesan plan, while St Andrew’s Church on Westland Row, south of the Liffey, would become the city’s cathedral.

The “Pro” always indicated the temporary nature of the cathedral at St Mary’s Church on Marlborough Street, pending the building of a new one.

Various sites were put forward over the years, including Merrion Square, the GPO and a site around the north end of Capel Street, but none of these schemes were progressed and the “Pro” remained the city’s principal Catholic church.

In a statement on Thursday, the Catholic Archdiocese said: “Dublin does not have a cathedral.”


St Mary’s had, for nearly 200 years, provided a focal point for the Archdiocese “but it was always envisaged that, at some point, a cathedral building would be required that had both the space and the facilities to accommodate the full range of diocesan liturgical and pastoral ministry. For a variety of reasons, that never happened but the limitations of the St Mary’s building and complex remain.”

St Mary’s was in an area “undergoing renewal” it said, while St Andrew’s Church “is well placed to engage with the vibrant residential, commercial and cultural heart of the city”.

Having consulted with the Council of Priests, an advisory body to Archbishop Dermot Farrell, the Archbishop decided Dublin should have a “properly designated cathedral and that it should be complemented by a church on the other side of the Liffey whose status and dignity are formally recognised and supported,” the statement said.

“For logistical reasons, there are strong grounds for considering that St Andrew’s might better serve the cathedral function, with St Mary’s raised to the dignity of a basilica.”

The proposal will require approval by the authorities in Rome and, in advance of seeking sanction, the Archbishop is establishing a project group which will include representatives of both St Mary’s and St Andrew’s parishes to develop proposals, supported by expert and technical advice, the diocese said. It is envisaged proposals will be presented by the project group for decision before the end of the year.

Should the Pro-Cathedral ultimately be designated a basilica, it will become just the third in Ireland, joining that at Knock in Co Mayo and at Lough Derg in Co Donegal.

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is a contributor to The Irish Times