The Honan Chapel (Irish: Séipéal Uí Eonáin),[4] formally known as Saint Finbarr's Collegiate Chapel or the Honan Hostel Chapel is a small collegiate church located adjacent to the grounds of University College Cork in Cork city, Ireland. The chapel, its furniture and liturgical collection are products of the Arts and Crafts movement in Ireland.[1]

Honan Chapel
Collegiate Chapel of St Finbarr[1]
Chapel front, facing the student centre
51°53′37″N 8°29′22″W / 51.8935°N 8.4895°W / 51.8935; -8.4895Coordinates: 51°53′37″N 8°29′22″W / 51.8935°N 8.4895°W / 51.8935; -8.4895
LocationUCC campus
DenominationRoman Catholic
DedicationFin Barre of Cork
Architect(s)James F. McMullen and John O'Connell[2][3]
StyleArts and Crafts movement



The chapel's altar

When Queen's College Cork (now University College Cork) was founded in 1845, its charter meant that it was non-denominational, and the act under which it was founded stated that no government money should be used for the building of a chapel or church.[1]

In 1913, following the death of Isabella Honan (the last in a line of wealthy Cork merchants), the executor of her will, Rev. Sir John O´Connell, allocated £40,000 of the Honan estate to the college.[5] As Catholic students had no place of worship, some of the money from the Honan estate was allocated to the building of a chapel and hostel (now demolished) to serve Roman Catholic students and staff.[6]

Although the chapel is dedicated to Cork's patron Saint Finbarr, its name therefore commemorates the chapel's primary benefactors.[5]


James Finbarre McMullen, a Cork based architect, was employed as the main architect on the project.[7] Other works by McMullen in Cork city include the Eye, Ear & Throat Hospital, Western Rd. (1897), St. Finbarre's West Total Abstinence Club, Bandon Road (1900), and remodeling at Holy Trinity Church, Fr. Mathew Quay (1908).[8]

The firm of John Sisk, also a Cork based contractor, was the principal builder on the project.[7] (90 years later, in 1996, the firm of Sisk & Sons worked as contractors on the O'Rahilly Building project - a complex which was built on the site of the former Honan Hostel; 1914–1991.)

Using the funds from the Honan bequest, and overseen by the executor Rev. Sir John O´Connell, the foundation stone of the Honan Chapel was laid on 18 May 1915.[9] The chapel was consecrated the following year, on 5 November 1916.

Style and influenceEdit

Harry Clarke's design for the Saint Gobnait window, as installed on the south side of the nave (1914)

The architectural style of the chapel is Hiberno-Romanesque in tradition, in that it has no aisles or transepts and a plain rectangular nave.[10] The plan and Hiberno-Romanesque style has been compared to that seen in the 12th-century church of St. Cronan in Roscrea.[7] Its bell-tower is also inspired by early monasticism and its circular-plan comparable to the round towers seen in Irish monastic settlements from the 9th century onwards.[7]

The chapel and its liturgical collection, were produced during the late phase of the Irish Arts and Crafts movement (1894–1925).[11] Both the building and furnishings were designed and produced as a single commission. This, together with oversight attributed to O'Connell,[12] accounts for an overall unity of style and design and a consistent use of Celto-Byzantine motifs in the building, its furnishings, altar plate, hangings and vestments.[citation needed] The traditions of Celtic art and Hiberno-Romanesque architecture were blended with tastes for Symbolism and Art Nouveau common in Europe before the outbreak of the First World War (1914–18).[citation needed] In Ireland this was known as the Celtic Twilight.[citation needed] O'Connell also worked closely with the president of University College Cork, Sir Bertram Allan Coghill Windle (1858–1929), to achieve his goals.[2]

The Honan Chapel is regarded as a significant work of the Irish Arts & Crafts Movement (1894–1925).[2] The commission was also significant because the project generated much needed work in Cork during the First World War (1914–18).[citation needed] The project fostered the revival of silver and textile craft working, once central to the Cork economy, and supported other local firms.[citation needed]

Detail from the floor mosaic, Honan Chapel, designed by Ludwig Oppenheimer, Ltd.

Artwork and liturgical collectionEdit

Some of the mosaic flooring work in the chapel was completed by Ludwig Oppenheimer, Ltd.[13][14] These floor mosaics focus on the Christian theme of the "River of Life".[7]

John Robert O'Connell commissioned the Cork firm of Egan & Sons for work on the altar plate and vestments. The names of seamstresses from the Egan workshop, formerly in 32 Patrick St. Cork, are embroidered in the lining of some of these textile commissions.[15] Students from the Crawford Municipal Technical Institute, which became the Crawford College of Art & Design, were involved in the exterior carvings.

Other features include the tabernacle with enamels by Oswald Reeves and stained glass windows by Harry Clarke and Sarah Purser's studio.[16][7] The St. Gobnait window on the north side of the chapel was nearly destroyed during the Easter Rising in Dublin. Changes in the liturgy, brought about by Vatican II, gave opportunities for a new generation of artists to decorate the Honan Chapel between 1983 and 2001. Imogen Stuart designed the altar, ambo, priest's chair and baptismal font. Hangings were designed by Evelyn Ross and Kim En Joong. The organ was built by Kenneth Jones, of Bray, County Wicklow.[citation needed]

Further readingEdit

  • Bowen, J & O'Brien, C. (2005). Cork Silver and Gold: Four Centuries of Craftsmanship. Collins Press.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  • Gordon Bowe, N. (1979). Harry Clarke. Dublin: The Douglas Hyde Gallery, Trinity College.
  • McMullen, J. (19 December 1916). "St. Finn Barr's Collegiate Chapel". University College Cork Gazette (vii): 187–188.
  • Murphy, J. A. (1995). The College: A History of Queen's University College Cork. Cork: Cork University Press.
  • O'Kelly, M. J. (1966). The Honan Chapel University College Cork (Third edition). Cork University Press.
  • Sheehy, J. (1980). The Rediscovery of Ireland's Past 1830-1930. London: Thames & Hudson.
  • Teehan, V. & Heckett, E. (2004). The Honan Chapel: A Golden Vision. Cork: Cork University Press.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  • Windle, B. (12 June 1914). "The Honan Benefactions". University College Cork Gazette (iv): 103–107.



  1. ^ a b c "Honan Chapel History". Retrieved 22 November 2018.
  2. ^ a b c Leland 2004.
  3. ^ Larmour 1992.
  4. ^ "Honan Chapel - Séipéal Uí Eonáin". UCC. Retrieved 21 November 2018.
  5. ^ a b O'Connell 1916, p. 11.
  6. ^ J.J.H. 1916, p. 614.
  7. ^ a b c d e f NIAH 2000.
  8. ^ "McMullen, James Finbarre". DIA. Retrieved 25 November 2018.
  9. ^ O'Kelly 1950, p. 291.
  10. ^ J.J.H. 1916, p. 613.
  11. ^ Larmour 2002, pp. 23-47.
  12. ^ O'Kelly 1950, p. 290.
  13. ^ "Ludwig Oppenheimer Ltd". DIA. Retrieved 21 November 2018.
  14. ^ Field 2006.
  15. ^ "Forgotten Faces of Art: The women of the Honan Chapel". UCC. 24 May 2016.
  16. ^ Larmour 1992, p. 186.


External linksEdit