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Tuesday 20 November 2018

4,500-pipe organ back to heavenly duty after restoration

Reverend Paul Colton and Very Reverend Nigel Dunne with the cathedral's newly-restored organ
Reverend Paul Colton and Very Reverend Nigel Dunne with the cathedral's newly-restored organ
Choristers at St Fin Barre's Cathedral, Cork

Olivia Kelleher

A 700-year-old choir tradition is once again secure after the largest organ in the country underwent a major €1.2m revamp.

The 143-year-old organ at St Fin Barre's Cathedral in Cork, originally built by English architect William Hill, who also planned the organ at Westminster Cathedral, boasts over 4,500 pipes and is the only organ situated in 'a pit' anywhere in the island of Ireland.

However, electrical components in the instrument had begun to fail in 2007.

A decision was taken to rebuild the organ at the princely sum of €1.2m.

It was re-dedicated yesterday afternoon by the Bishop of Cork, Right Reverend Paul Colton, at a service attended by Arts Minister Jimmy Deenihan.

The beautiful instrument was then put to work in the Anglican Cathedral with a sung office of Choral Evensong and an organ voluntary.

Dean of Cork, Very Reverend Nigel Dunne, said the restoration of the organ was "two years in the planning and three years in the doing".

He admitted the mammoth restoration project, through the Irish firm of Trevor Crowe, has been a "large part of my life" in recent years.

"I am delighted to get to this stage, which has been achieved by the hard work and generosity of so many," he said.

The Arts Department allocated €212,000 towards conservation works at the historic cathedral.

High-profile names like musician Eleanor McEvoy and Irish dancer Michael Flatley were amongst those who assisted in the fundraising.

The cathedral organ was originally built in 1870 by William Hill, who was regarded as the foremost organ builder of the period. The organ also underwent two previous restorations.

For over 700 years there has been a choir in practice on the site, with the organ used as part of the choirs service and also on behalf of the ancient Choral Foundation to provide free musical education for children.

Irish Independent

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