After the last post about the former Bishop’s Palace in Clogher, County Tyrone, here is a view of St Macartan’s, the cathedral which justified having an episcopal residence in this small Ulster village. There appear to be no traces of the early Christian cathedral founded here, according to tradition, in 490 on the instructions of St Patrick, nor of its medieval successor which by 1622 was described as ‘altogether ruinous’ and incapable of bearing a roof. Instead, the building dates from 1744 when commissioned by Bishop John Stearne from the little-known architect James Martin (who died the following year). Austerely symmetrical in design, the cruciform building has pedimented gables on the transepts and chancel, also on the west front but this is then topped by a square belfry tower with obelisks finials. Both the entrance door and the windows are round-headed, although a Venetian window can be found at the east end of the building. The surrounding graveyard has some handsome tombstones indicating this has long been used as a burial site.
The pretty Doric gatelodge which stands at the entrance to what was formerly the Bishop’s Palace in Clogher, County Tyrone. Mrs Delany, who was close friends of the then-Bishop Robert Clayton and his wife, paid a visit to the place in August 1748 when she wrote ‘this house is large and makes a good showish figure; but there is a great loss of room by ill-contrivance within doors.’ Perhaps that is why it was replaced by the building seen today, erected on the site. This was commissioned in the early 19th century by Bishop Lord John George Beresford (although the wings may be survivors of the earlier palace) and designed by Dublin architect David Henry. The facade is of seven bays and three storeys over basement, with a three-bay pediment and a large Doric porch on the ground floor. The land immediately behind the house drops away steeply to give views of what remains of the 18th century landscaped park, which can be seen from a high arcaded terrace (alas, not accessible on a recent visit). Clogher is a tiny village, dominated by the former palace and the small cathedral which sits to its immediate west. Inevitably, in the aftermath of the Disestablishment of the Church of Ireland, the house was sold to a private owner and then, in 1922, bought by the Roman Catholic Church and turned into a convent. Today it is a residential care home.