Visiting hours at St. Marys Cathedral
Local Attractions in and about Tuam
Tourism in Tuam had very small beginnings. It started with the establishment of the Mill Museum which was opened to the public in 1974. This old mill is now the only water powered preserved corn mill in the West of Ireland which is still operated as a voluntary community project.
Since 1983 a seasonal tourist information office is operated from the Mill Museum.
In addition, the Mill Museum operates walking tours of the Town for visiting groups and covers all the historical aspects of the Town. These tours start at Abbeytrinity Car Park. This car park takes its name from the Premonstratention abbey which was established in Tuam during the latter part of the 12th century. From this car park the visitors are brought through the Town, stopping at interesting points along the way, the first stop being The Chair of Tuam, then on to the largest house in the Town which at one time was the residence of the Church of Ireland Archbishops and later Bishops of Tuam. The building was vacated in the early 1950's and was for a time used a sleeping quarters for the boarders at Presentation College, Currylea until the boarders were phased out in the early 1990's. It was then taken over by a local Supermarket owner, beautifully restored and now has a restaurant on the ground floor known as The Palace Restaurant. This house was built between 1716 and 1741 by Archbishop Edward Synge as is still the largest house in the Town.
The Community Centre, which is adjacent to the Palace was at one time the stables and servants quarters. The building now serves as the local community centre and also houses a number of community and private business projects.
As visitors walk towards the Roman Catholic Cathedral they will notice that on either side of the Cathedral there are a number of schools. St. Jarlath's College (est.1800), Presentation Convent (est. 1835), Sisters of Mercy Convent (est. 1846) and St. Patrick's College (est. 1851 by the Irish Christian Brothers). In addition, there is another school, the John MacHale vocational school ( est. 1937).
The Catholic Cathedral was built between 1827 and 1836 during a famine period in parts of the West of Ireland. The building of the Cathedral was commenced by Archbishop Oliver Kelly, Archbishop of Tuam 1815 to 1834 and it was completed By Archbishop Oliver MacHale, Archbishop of Tuam 1834 to 1881. There are many interesting facets to this limestone building, the classic faces around the windows the humorous faces at the rear of the Cathedral and the stain glass windows by The Harry Clarke studios which date from the early 20th century.
The Town centre, which was laid out in the early 17th century following the granting of a royal charter by King James the first of England has the Town Hall as its centre piece. This building was originally built in 1853 and is currently being modernised. Opposite the Town Hall is The Imperial Hotel which has served as a hotel in Tuam since the 19th century.
Temple Jarlath (The place of Jarlath) is the next stop for visitors and here we can see the remnants of the earliest monastic settlement which established Tuam as a population centre.
Tradition has it that Jarlath was a member of a large religious community at Cloonfush and Kilbannon which are areas a few miles outside the Town. In time, Jarlath's life became uncertain as he wished to travel and establish his own monastery. Eventually his abbot St. Benin bade him "Go, and where ever your chariot wheel breaks, there shall be the site of your new monastery and the place of your resurrection". So it was that Jarlath's wheel broke in the area that is now called Temple Jarlath.
This was the first Christian settlement in Tuam and supplanted the old pagan burial beliefs with Christian values and beliefs as taught by St. Patrick.
The next stop for visitors is St. Mary's Cathedral.
The first Cathedral on this site dates from the 12th century when Turlough O’Conor was High King of Ireland (1111-1156). This marked the establishment of Tuam as the seat of an Archbishop following the Synod of Kells in 1152. This first Cathedral was destroyed by fire in 1184 and the site was abandoned for almost 100 years. In the 14th Century a 2nd Cathedral was built by the DeBurgo family but only what is referred to as the Synod Hall was ever completed. This was due to a money shortage because of the 100 years war in Europe. The 12th century Chancel and sanctuary of the first Cathedral was incorporated into the 2nd Cathedral and was used as the entrance to what was still a Catholic Cathedral. With the onset of the reformation in the 16th Century the Cathedral was taken over by the reformed Church when William Mullaly was appointed as the 1st Protestant Archbishop of Tuam in 1573. With the coming of the railway to Tuam in 1860, and the enlargement of the army garrison, the local Anglican population increased to such an extent that the 14th Century Cathedral was no longer large enough to accommodate the congregation and this led to the building of a 3rd Cathedral on this site, designed by Sir Thomas Newenham Deane which was built between 1861 and 1878. This 3rd Cathedral was built on the site of the 1st Cathedral and incorporated the 12th Century Hiberno-Romanesque arch as the sanctuary while the 2nd Cathedral became the synod hall which was restored between 1985-1987 and made available for community use. This 3rd Cathedral is still used today for Sunday Services which take place at 12.00 Noon.
This Cathedral contains relics of the Town’s past glories, the High Cross which is classed as a National Monument, was removed from The Town Centre in 1992 and erected in the south transept of this Cathedral in June of that year. In the North Transept, the ornamental shaft of another cross which also dates from the 12th Century survives.
A number of stained glass windows depict the faces of former parishioners. The West window of the Cathedral depicts the Transfiguration of Our Lord and is seen at its best when the sun is beginning to set during the summer months. Underneath this window are seven small lancet windows referred to as lights. The centre panel depicts Christ The King and is erected to the memory of Sir Thomas Deane, architect of the 3rd Cathedral. The other windows depict Prophets of the Old Testament beginning from the left with Moses, David, Solomon, Ezra, Malachi and John The Baptist.
The last stop on the walking tour of the Town is a visit to The Mill Museum with its still working water wheel and machinery still intact. The Museum was established as a voluntary community project in 1974 and still coninues as such. It is the only preserved working corn mill in the West of Ireland and its history dates back the the late 17th century.
Clais an Aifrinn
Gardenfield Golden Mile
Attraction within driven distance include :