St Peter's Cathedral, Belfast

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Saint Peter's Cathedral
Saint Peter's Cathedral, Belfast
St petersbelfast-2.jpg
Saint Peter's Cathedral is located in Northern Ireland
Saint Peter's Cathedral
Saint Peter's Cathedral
Location within Northern Ireland
Coordinates: 54°35′57″N 5°56′40″W / 54.599038°N 5.944408°W / 54.599038; -5.944408
Location Belfast, County Antrim
Country  United Kingdom
 Northern Ireland
Denomination Roman Catholic
Consecrated 14 October 1866
Architect(s) Fr. Jeremiah Ryan McAuley
John O'Neill
Style Gothic Revival
Years built 1860–1866
Length 180ft (54.8m)
Width 70ft (21.3m)
Number of spires 2
Diocese Down and Connor (since 1866)
Province Armagh
Bishop(s) Noel Treanor, Bishop of Down and Connor
Dean Martin Graham
Director of music Nigel McClintock
Organist(s) Nigel McClintock

St. Peter's Cathedral, Belfast. (Irish: Ard Eaglais Naomh Peadar) is the Roman Catholic cathedral church for the Diocese of Down and Connor, and is therefore the episcopal seat of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Down and Connor. It is located in the Divis Street area of the Falls Road in Belfast, Northern Ireland and construction began in the 1860s. It is home to St Peter's Schola Cantorum (Choir).


Until the Reformation the cathedral of the Diocese of Down & Connor had been at Downpatrick.

St. Peters's was originally envisaged as the parish church for the expanding post-Famine Catholic population of Belfast. The site was provided by a wealthy Belfast flour merchant and philanthropist, Bernard Hughes[1] while the church was designed by Fr Jeremiah Ryan McAuley, who had trained as an architect before he became a priest. [2]

The church was opened on 14 October 1866. The signature twin spires were added in 1886.[3]

The decision to designate St Peter's as the diocesan cathedral was taken by Bishop Cahal Daly who celebrated the Mass on 29 June 1986 at which the building was formally named as the Cathedral Church of Down and Connor.


The exterior is of Scrabo sandstone with Scottish sandstone dressings. Internally there is a hammer-beam ceiling. [4] There were several extensive refurbishments in 1950, in 1986 under the direction of the controversial Irish artist Ray Carroll and more latterly in 2003/5 which undid much of the 1980s work

It was built on a scale and with a level of high quality interior decoration that it became known as a pro-cathedral, or temporary cathedral, for the Diocese. In that regard it was an honour shared with St Patrick's Church, Belfast in Donegall St where, for example, Bishop Patrick Dorrian was buried in 1885 and where in 1929 Bishop Daniel Mageean was consecrated bishop.

It is a Grade A listed building.[5]

Past Administrators[edit]

From St Peter's Cathedral website[6] unless otherwise stated:

  • Fr William Blaney: 1866–1873
  • Fr Andrew McAuley: 1873–1882
  • Fr Patrick Convery: 1882–1895
  • Fr John McCartan: 1895–1898
  • Fr John Tohill: 1898–1905
  • Fr Bernard Laverty: 1905–1911
  • Fr John Healy: 1911–1919
  • Fr Thomas McDonald: 1919–1929
  • Fr Alexander McAteer: 1929–1930
  • Fr George McKillop: 1930–1943
  • Fr John McLaverty: 1938–1943
  • Fr George Watson: 1943–1945
  • Fr Leo McKeown: 1945–1949
  • Fr Laurence Higgins: 1949–1955
  • Fr Patrick McAtamney: 1955–1960
  • Fr Joseph McConville: 1960–1963
  • Fr James McCloskey: 1963–1966
  • Fr Sean O’Neill: 1966–1967
  • Canon Padraig Murphy: 1967–1971
  • Fr Francis Teggart: 1971–1974
  • Fr Alex Darragh: 1974–1978
  • Fr Vincent McKinley: 1978–1983
  • Fr Joseph McGurnaghan: 1983–1986
  • Fr Sean Connolly: 1986–1990
  • Fr Anthony Alexander: 1990–1994
  • Monsignor Thomas Toner: 1994–2006
  • Fr Hugh Kennedy: 2006–2016
  • Fr Martin Graham: 2016 –


  • Peter Galloway, The Cathedrals of Ireland, The Institute of Irish Studies, The Queen's University of Belfast, (1992).


  1. ^ Features, St Peter's Cathedral website. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ History, Department of Communities website. Retrieved 29 October 2017.
  6. ^ History, St Peter's Cathedral website. Retrieved 29 November 2011.

External links[edit]