St. Anne’s Shandon Church is a historic landmark and popular tourist attraction in Cork’s animated Shandon district. Established in 1722 as a small chapel, it was later developed into an elegant Georgian monument. Visit St. Anne’s Shandon Church to enjoy the unique opportunity of ringing the renowned church bells. Afterward, climb to the summit of the church’s tower for sweeping views across Cork and its surroundings.
Take a moment to appreciate the church’s fine architecture, dominated by a tall Italianate tower with 7-foot-thick (2-meter) walls. Crowning the tower is a belfry with a fish-shaped weather vane, which honors the importance of Cork’s salmon-fishing industry. Note the four clocks, otherwise known as the four-faced liar due to their inconsistent timekeeping. The tower’s red and white color is rumored to have inspired the city’s sporting colors.
Step inside to discover a peaceful building supported by a Victorian-style vaulted ceiling. Look for a baptismal font that dates back to 1629 and a series of artistic stained-glass windows, including an oval one with a portrayal of St. Luke.
Go to the tower and climb the stone staircase to the belfry, home to the eight 18th-century Shandon Bells. Local poet Francis Sylvester Mahony immortalized the bells in his poem The Bells of Shandon. Today, try being a bell-ringer and attempt to play along using music-by-number song sheets.
Continue up the tower’s staircase and pause to get a glimpse of the clocks’ machinery. After over 100 steps at 130 feet (40 meters) in the air, the staircase opens onto an observation platform with uninterrupted views of the city, the River Lee and the encompassing countryside.
The church is just a short walk across the River Lee from Cork’s city center. While here, be sure to explore the streets of the Shandon district, with antique dealers, cozy cafés and museums such as the Cork Butter Museum.
St. Anne’s Shandon Church is open daily and has free admission. Pay a fee if you wish to climb the tower and play the bells. Find full details on the church’s official website.