The Stained Glass Windows of Saint Muredach’s Cathedral

Honouring our Past, Securing our Future

The Stained Glass Windows of Saint Muredach’s Cathedral

Saint Muredach’s Cathedral is the cathedral church of the Diocese of Killala in the West of Ireland. It is located on the banks of the River Moy in Ballina, County Mayo and is the most recognisable landmark in the town. The Cathedral’s construction was initiated by Bishop John McHale who served as Bishop of Killala from 1825 to 1834, before his appointment as Archbishop of Tuam. Work on the Cathedral began in 1827, with the foundation stone being laid on the 24th of May that year. In 2027, God willing, this beautiful Cathedral will celebrate its bi-centenary.

Over the past twenty-five years, major renovations have been undertaken both inside and outside the Cathedral. It is hoped to complete this work in the coming years in the lead-in to the bi-centenary celebration. The first project in this final phase of work is to safeguard the Cathedral’s beautiful stained glass windows.

Work was carried out on some of the Cathedral windows in the late 1990s as part of the refurbishment work undertaken at the Cathedral before the turn of the millennium, and consequently the work needing to be carried out on these windows now involves minimum re-leading with an emphasis on necessary stone repairs and repointing in situ. However, a number of the windows were not repaired at that time because of budgetary constraints, and these need to be conserved and restored (involving significant re-leading) as part of this project. The work to be carried out now will also involve the removal of all of the existing storm glazing which is no longer considered to be giving adequate protection to these very valuable stained glass windows, and replacement with new and better protective glazing. The current glazing is fitted close to the stained glass with little ventilation allowed for. The putty which seals the glass to the reveals is cracked and allowing water to penetrate. The necessary repairs to the stained glass and the replacement of some of the timber frames will take place on-site, along with the necessary stone repairs and repointing around the windows. It is envisaged that the two large transept windows will need to be removed for more extensive and delicate required works to be carried out at a work studio.

The stained glass windows in Saint Muredach’s Cathedral are among its richest heritage and are virtually irreplaceable. With the exception of four smaller windows, all of the stained glass windows in Saint Muredach’s Cathedral have originated from Franz Mayer & Company of Munich, Germany, a company established in 1848. Their value is now incalculable because the Mayer Studios in Munich with their details of designs, records, installations and techniques were completely destroyed by Allied bombers in World War Two.

The Cathedral windows feature many of the Irish saints including the national patron Patrick, and Muredach the patron saint of Killala diocese. The Sanctuary Window in the East Gable behind the altar depicts Saint Muredach, Saint Dympna, Saint Asicus, and Saint Colmcille. Second row: Saint Lawrence O’ Toole, Saint Patrick, Saint Bridget, and Saint Kevin. At the top of the window there are the four evangelists: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. A window in the right (Ardnaree) Nave depicts Saint Anthony, Saint Catherine, Saint John, and Saint Michael. Some of the side windows depict scenes from the Gospels: the visit of the angel Gabriel to Mary, the birth of the baby Jesus, the sisters Martha and Mary, and the Ascension to mention just a few. These beautiful windows, with their strong colours and vivid themes, add hugely to the Cathedral’s prayerful ambiance as the changing light provides a wonderful display of changing patterns.

As with any enduring legacy of this scale, it requires a significant financial commitment to undertake this important project. The projected cost of the entire work to the seventeen Mayer windows is €332,000, Further on, you will see a breakdown of the costs per window. We invite you to help us by contributing a financial gift in any amount to help us ensure that the beautiful stained glass windows are conserved for another generation and beyond.

The names of donors of an entire window repair, and those in whose memory the work to the stained glass windows are sponsored, will be recorded on a special bi-centennial commemorative Plaque of Remembrance inside the Cathedral.

As an eligible charity, charitable giving to Saint Muredach’s Cathedral offers tax relief benefits to (U.S.) donors.

To contribute to the project either by way of a once-off donation or, alternatively, in annual installments over the coming four to five years, and to learn more about sponsoring the repair of a Cathedral window in memory of loved ones and a recording on the Plaque of Remembrance, please contact the parish priest of the Cathedral, Father Aidan O’ Boyle, directly at +353 87 236 4518 (cell phone), or email him at: .

Whatever ways you support us we thank you and look forward to continuing to serve you in the years ahead.

Breakdown of Costs per Window

Main Sanctuary Window€30,000
Window either side of the main Sanctuary Window€23,000 x 2
Window over the reredos on either side of the Sanctuary€17,000 x 2
North Gable Transept Window€35,000
South Gable Transept Window€35,000
Window at the back of each Transept€12,000 x 2
8 Windows along the main aisle€16,000 x 8
Total costs (17 windows)€332,000

Acknowledgements for text

Brendan Hoban, Kilmoremoy Parish (2009)
Jim McGuire, Steeple & People. The Story of Ballina and Its Cathedral (1991)