Saturday, May 24, 2014

Glenstal Abbey and Ireland’s Urban Cathedrals

            Our travels through Ireland’s three largest cities provided us with stunning vantage points of some of their magnificent cathedrals.  My research focus for the course, exploring the interaction between religious worldviews and psychotherapeutic training in Ireland, was reflected in the relationship of these historic buildings to their environments.  Often situated near the city centers, their soaring spires and finely wrought architectural details lent both historical gravitas and cultural vibrancy to these otherwise very modern settings.
            Ireland is experiencing a time of changing identity and many of those who spoke with us pointed out the explicit distancing from religion taking place in the country on a large, if mostly informal, scale.  Still, as I watched a large wedding party leaving Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin and fan back into the many moods and districts of the city, I realized how central the church is to Ireland in terms of social structure and organization.  Whether forged in alliance with or in contrast to the cathedrals anchoring them, Ireland’s cities may be an apt parallel for the minds of many of its inhabitants – focusing both on and through the heart of a familiar construct.
            We were also fortunate enough to visit the beautiful Glenstal Abbey and be guided through the grounds and art collection by distinguished historian and Benedictine monk Dr. Colmán Ó Clabaigh.  The abbey is home to a celebrated terraced garden and one of Ireland’s finest secondary schools as well.

Please enjoy the photos.

-Darren Turner

The Norman gatehouse at Glenstal Abbey.

Glenstal Abbey, a Catholic Monastery.

Glenstal Abbey grounds.

The ancient West Door of St. Mary’s Cathedral in Limerick.

Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral in Cork.

Christchurch Cathedral, Dublin, from our hotel window at daybreak.

The Bridge and Synod Hall of Christchurch Cathedral, Dublin.

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