Welcome to the Honan Chapel & Collection

April 1916 saw the Easter Rising in Dublin. July 1916 saw the carnage of the Battle of the Somme in France. November 1916 saw the opening of the Honan Chapel in Cork.

honan chapel

The Honan Chapel was built and furnished during a period marking the transformation of the Irish political and cultural landscape. The period 1915-1917 was a watershed in the formation of modern Ireland. The Honan chapel was built at the height of the Great War, a war which was to have political implications for Ireland. An estimated 200,000 Irishmen fought in World War One, of whom 60,000 lost their lives. Irish brigades sustained heavy losses during the initial phase of the Battle of the Somme in July 1916. Many Irishmen had joined the British Army urged on by John Redmond's belief that Irish participation would aid the fullest possible measure of Home Rule for Ireland, but as the war raged in Europe Redmond's National Volunteer Force lost ground to the separatist Irish Volunteers who laid plans for the Rising of Easter 1916. While this rising was a military failure the aftermath altered political opinion within Ireland. There was a swing away from parliamentary participation for the Home Rule movement towards a more separatist Republican political opinion as advocated by Sinn Féin.

The Honan Chapel, dedicated to St. Finbarr of Cork, is a unique case-study illustrating the role played by the Dublin schools in helping to renew Cork craftsmanship in the first decades of the twentieth-century. The chapel and its liturgical collection are products of the Irish Arts & Crafts Movement (1894-1925). This accounts for the overall unity of style. The designers were searching for a new sense of Irish national identity on the threshold of political independence from Britain. This was expressed by looking back to the traditions of Celtic art and Hiberno-Romanesque architecture and blending them with contemporary tastes for Art Nouveau.

The building of the Honan Chapel and its original liturgical furnishings has been comprehensively examined by Virginia Teehan & Elizabeth Wincott Heckett in The Honan Chapel: A Golden Vision published by Cork University Press in 2004. The story of the Honan Chapel did not end on completion of the project in 1916. Items added to the collection since 1983 are an important part of the chapel's evolution and have been included. These new furnishings reflect revision of the liturgy since the Second Vatican Council (1962-65).

This website, designed to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the chapel and its collection, aims to introduce you to the chapel and its furnishings through new online essays and a comprehensive image collection.