Cork City

Unitarian Church

Situated in Princes Street this church was completed in 1717. It became known as the New Meeting House after the Unitarians moved from their original building in Watergate Lane in the medieval city. The church was built on a site adjacent to Oliver Plunkett Street (formerly George Street). This new street was formed in 1715 on the eastern river marsh. The Unitarian church is the oldest surviving documented building in the city. It is still used by the Unitarian Congregation with services twice a month. Built characteristically as an early 18th century auditory church, in what has been called the “theatre in the barn” style commonly used by non-conformist or dissenter religious groups where the large congregation (which could number over 1000 people) needed to be able to hear the preacher and not just follow the ritual solely from a distance. Organized as a square with seating for the congregation at gallery and ground level on three sides facing the preacher. Interesting architectural features include the oval windows with limestone surrounds on the first and ground floors and the great gabled steeply pitched roof. The pews and church organ (one of the oldest church organs in Ireland) were removed from the church 10 years ago. The building most definitely contributes to the streetscape and acts as a contrast to the hustle and bustle of the surrounding city.

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