Church of St Anne, Ireland | CruiseBe
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Church of St Anne

History and museums
church, landmark

The Church of St Anne is a Church of Ireland church located in the Shandon district of Cork city in Ireland. It is situated a top a hill overlooking the River Lee, and the church tower of is a noted landmark and symbol of the city. The church bells were popularised in song in the 19th century, and remain a visitor attraction.



The name Shandon comes from the Irish, Sean Dún, meaning "old fort". Shandon was one of 28 settlements in and around ancient Cork. A medieval church dedicated to St. Mary existed on this site and is mentioned in the decretals of Pope Innocent III in 1199 as "St. Mary on the Mountain". This church stood until the Williamite wars when it was destroyed during the siege of Cork (1690). In 1693 this was replaced by a church, also dedicated to St. Mary, and was located at the bottom of Mallow Lane, modern day Shandon Street. Due to population growth, it was decided to build anew on this ancient site and so in 1722 the present Church of St. Anne, Shandon was constructed.

It is built with two types of stone; red sandstone from the original Shandon castle which stood nearby, and limestone taken from the derelict Franciscan Abbey which stood on the North Mall. On the approach to Shandon, it is possible to see both red and white coloured stone, and such is the affection that Shandon holds that citizens designated both colours to represent the city.

The church of St. Anne attained full parochial status in 1772, when Rev. Arthur Hyde (great-great-grandfather of Dr. Douglas Hyde) was appointed its first Rector.



The church is noted for its 8 bells (rung via an Ellacombe) due to the song "The Bells of Shandon" by Francis Sylvester Mahony. The largest weighs a little over 1.5 tons and was originally cast by Abel Rudhall of Gloucester. To reduce vibration, they were placed in a fixed position. They first rang on December 7, 1752. They have been recast twice: in 1865 and 1906. Today, visitors can climb to the first floor and ring the bells themselves.

The original inscriptions are retained on each bell:

  • When us you ring we'll sweetly sing
  • God preserve the Church and King
  • Health and prosperity to all our benefactors
  • Peace and good neighbourhood
  • Prosperity to the city and trade thereof
  • We were all cast at Gloucester in England by Abel Rudhall 1750
  • Since generosity has opened our mouths our tongues shall sing aloud its praise
  • I to the Church the living call and to the grave do summon all


The walls of the building are 2 m (7 ft) thick and the height to the tower is 36.5 m (120 ft). This is extended a further 15 m (50 ft) for the "pepper pot" adornment on the tower. The McOsterich family were involved with the design and erection of this tower and to this day a special privilege is afforded them. Whenever a member of the family marries, anywhere in the world, the bells ring out in their honour. On top of this pepper pot is a weather vane in the form of a salmon, representing the fishing of the River Lee. It is an appropriate sign to have on top of a church, as in the earliest Christian days a fish was used as a symbol for the name of the Lord.


The clock of the tower is known to Corkonians as "The Four Faced Liar" because, depending on the angle of the viewer, and the effects of wind on the hands on a given face, the time may not appear to correspond perfectly on each face. Due to maintenance issues, the clock was stopped in 2013, but plans to fund repair were agreed in May 2014, and the clock restarted in September 2014.


The christening font, dated 1629, is a relic from the church destroyed in the siege of Cork in 1690 and bears the inscription, "Walter Elinton and William Ring made this pant (the Anglo-Saxon word for Font) at their charges". Within is a pewter bowl dated 1773.

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