St. John’s Cathedral Organ

St John’s Cathedral Organ


History of the Organ

The organ, which was inaugurated in May 1864, was a present to the cathedral from the 3rd Earl Dunraven of Adare, Edwin Richard Wyndham-Quin.  It was built by the esteemed British organ building company of William Hill & Son at a cost in excess of £1,000.  [i]

The original had a mechanical action and was converted to pneumatic action as part of an overhaul in 1917 by Hill, Norman and Beard (the new name of the company after an amalgamation in the wake of WW1).

Major work was undertaken in the early 1960s by the British firm of Henry Willis & Son, which included the addition of some new stops, a conversion to electro pneumatic action, a new electric blower and the installation of a new detached tab key console.  The wind pressure was also increased and many of the pipes revoiced to make a stronger more forthright sound in keeping with the Willis house style of the day.

In 1982 further work was undertaken by the Irish organ building firm of Kenneth Jones Ltd. at a cost of £45,000.  Extensive cleaning was carried out, there were some tonal changes and the console was replaced with the current three manual drawstop console.

In 2005 after the renovation of the cathedral and in response to a variety of problems, a partial renovation of the organ was undertaken by Stephen Adams of Carlow at a cost of €55,000; the organ was thoroughly cleaned, the action was overhauled and a new ‘Solid State’ electronic switching system was installed.

The organ case and most of the original pipes of 1864 remain intact today.  It consists of three manuals, a pedal board and 45 speaking stops amounting to more than 2,500 pipes.


©Bernadette Kiely,  Trevor Crowe

[i] ‘Opening of the Great Organ – St. John’s Cathedral – The Oratorio’ – Munster News 18 May 1864

‘Emissaries to a believing and singing land’  – Renewal and Resistance – Ed P. Collins


Organ specification

Swell                                                                     Choir

Quintaton 16                                                         Gemshorn  8

Open Diapason 8                                                  Dulciana 8

Viola da Gamba 8                                                 Rohrflute 8

Nason Flute 8                                                        Coppelflute 4

Geigen Principal 4                                                Principal 4

Flute 4                                                                     Fifteenth 2

Sesquialtera  2 2/3 (2 ranks)                             Quartane 1 1/3

Flageolet 2                                                             Krummhorn 8

Mixture 2 (3 ranks)                                             Swell to Choir

Double Trumpet 16


Oboe 8




Great                                                                      Pedal

Double Diapason 16                                              Acoustic Bass 32

Open Diapason no.1    8                                       Open Wood 16

Open Diapason no. 2    8                                      Violone 16

Stopped Diapason  8                                             Bourdon 16

Octave 4                                                                   Octave 8

Spitzflute 4                                                              Flute 8

Superoctave 2                                                         Choral Bass 4

Nazard 2 2/3                                                           Flute 4

Open flute 2                                                            Mixture 2 2/3 (4 ranks)

Tierce 1 1/3                                                             Trumpet 8

Mixture 2 (5 ranks)                                              Trombone 16

Trumpet 8                                                              Swell to Pedal

Tremulant                                                              Choir to Pedal

Choir to Great                                                        Great to Pedal

Swell to Great

Great and Pedal combs coupled


2 Memory Levels

Scope Piston

6 thumb pistons to each manual and to pedal + coupler pistons


Information supplied by Bernadette Kiely, Organist and Choir Director St John’s Cathedral