The Neo-Classical style Christ Church Cathedral was designed by John Roberts, the architect of Georgian Waterford, who is also remembered for his work on the Roman Catholic Cathedral on Barronstrand St. The present Cathedral was begun in 1773 and was completed in 1779 at a total cost of £5,397.
The site is of notable historic interest as it was here in 1170, that Strongbow married Aoife, daughter of Diarmuid Mac Murrough, King of Leinster. There is a long –standing ecclesiastical presence on the site dating from as early as 1096. The Cathedral incorporates fragments of the earlier church including the remains of a Norman clustered pillar.
During the demolition of the earlier church, the famous Waterford Vestments were discovered. Dating from late medieval times, they are the only complete set of either British or Irish High Mass vestments to survive the Reformation. Part of the set has been restored and is on display at Waterford Museum of Treasures.
The present Cathedral is particularly noteworthy for the quality of the interior, with wonderful examples of intricate 18th Century Rococo style stucco plaster-work and impressive vaulted ceilings.
Other interesting features include The Macabre Tomb of James Rice, who was Mayor of Waterford eleven times in the 15th Century, the ‘arts and crafts’ 1930s stained glass window attributed to A E Childs from the famous Dublin based Glass Studio of the 1920s and 1930s An Túr Gloine (The Glass Tower), the Hebrew inscription behind the Altar, the tomb of a 16th century warrior, the impressive Waterford Crystal chandeliers, the remarkable Elliot Jones Organ – one of the finest in Ireland and the collection of memorial plaques.