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“Catholic cathedrals in Ireland are monuments to our imitative instincts and conservative distrust of artistic originality. There are examples of new church architecture but in general, Church authorities remained faithful to the Middle Ages and refused to abandon medieval architecture. It is therefore understandable that in 1949 when the building of Galway Cathedral was commissioned, it should have been conceived in a hybrid Romanesque style. In 1959, the foundation stone was laid and on August 15, 1965, the Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven and St Nicholas was dedicated by Cardinal Cushing. In December that year the Vatican Council solemnly ended its revolutionary document The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy which rendered the shape, style, arrangement, and setting of such buildings obsolete and anachronistic. This building was almost an object lesson in insularity. It is clear from the late Bishop of Galway’s instructions that for him art can be no more than decoration, an illustration of scripture or a clearly formulated theology. Art is never an original source, a spiritual revelation, a doing of theology.”
This photograph was taken from the first floor of The Galway Arms at 2.25pm on a summer day in 1910 when these people were processing over O’Brien’s Bridge to the site of Saint Mary’s College for the laying of the foundation stone for that school. The large crowd is being led by a group of priests all wearing birettas, followed by several RIC men. There is an interesting mix of styles on view with some women wearing patterned Galway shawls while others are sporting large fashionable hats. Virtually all of the men are wearing headgear, be they hard hats or soft caps. Notice the tramtracks.