Waterford Cathedral Choir

History Of The Great Organ


The Cathedral Organ Barronstrand Street Waterford

The Organ of the (RC) Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, Waterford

Thankyou to David Forde for the following information.

The organ in Waterford's Catholic Cathedral was built originally around the year 1848 by William Hill. It was refurbished by the same firm in 1910, and extensively altered by the Irish Organ Company in 1963.

The organ  has a manual compass of 61 notes and a pedal compass of 32 notes. The action is electro-pneumatic and the console is detatched.


Great Organ in Catholic Cathedral is 150 years old! 

(Published in the Munster Express Waterford, Thursday September 18th 2008 by Mr. Anthony Brophy).

The majestic organ in the Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity, Barronstrand Street, Waterford, is 150 years old. It was inaugurated at a Solemn High Mass on Sunday, 29th August, 1858 in the presence of town and country. At the time it was the finest organ in Ireland and with some necessary attention could well be that again. Built by William Hill & Sons, London, the instrument was considered so wonderful that the leading organist of the day, W.T. Best, Liverpool, played it at that High Mass in 1858.

 Tale of Two Cathedrals

The great organ complements a very great building, a masterpiece of local architect John Roberts, who also designed Christchurch, the Church of Ireland Cathedral. The 'Elliot' organ in Christchurch has been recently restored by Kenneth Jones. There may even be yet another  connection between both Cathedrals in that William Hill was a pupil of Elliot and succeeded him in the business, and may well have worked on the Christchurch organ before building the Holy Trinity instrument. Waterford city has a unique history  in that the same Architect designed both the Anglican Cathedral and The Roman Catholic Cathedral, and this was highly unusual in Europe at the time. There is as a result a special relationship between both communities of the Cathedrals.


Picture taken more recently at one of our Ecumenical Services held in Christchurch Cathedral Waterford.

The organ is housed in the west end gallery consistent with the orientation of worship to the east linking the rising sun with the resurrection and thereby the cosmic impact on liturgy. It is also the wisdom of having choristers and musicians out of sight, thus necessary housekeeping in running a choir does not distract the congregation, moreover the elevated location enhances sound. The Cathedral has a much admired acoustic which can handle a big natural sound, among such admirers was Sir John Barbirolli who led a memorable ‘Messiah’ there in 1953 (An Tostal).The organ cost £1,700 reputedly defrayed by the then Bishop, Dominic O’Brien, unbelievably just a decade after the Famine.

The Cathedral of the Most Blessed Trinity has been a haven of prayer for millions over its 212 years and some of that life preceded Catholic Emancipation, testimony of local religious tolerance when it is remembered that the hierarchy was not restored in England until 1850. It was the first post Reformation Catholic Cathedral built in these Islands and a great organ is a fitting, resounding feature.


On Sunday, the 29th August, 1858, this beautiful instrument (the largest in Ireland at the time) was performed on at the Solemn High Mass at Twelve O’Clock. The sermon was preached after the First Gospel by the Very Rev. Michael Russell, O.P., Dublin. The music, a selection  of sacred works by Mozart, Haydn, Rossini etc was performed by the following soloists, assisted by the Choir of the Cathedral: Soprani, Miss Julia Cruise and Mrs. Mahon, Contralto, Mrs. Cantwell, Tenor, Mr. Glynn, and Bassi, Mr. Coleman and Mr Leahy. Mr. W. T. Best, the celebrated organist of St. George’s Hall, Liverpool,  performed on the Organ, and at the conclusion of the Ceremonies  performed a selection of Organ pieces from the most eminent Composers. A Collection was made on the occasion, towards which it is expected that the Citizens contributed with their accustomed liberality. Another generous gesture came from Malcolmson’s, the shipping family, who transported the organ parts from London to Waterford without charge.

Three hour Ceremony:

An account of the inauguration from The Waterford Chronicle of Saturday, September 4th, 1858, noted that  the Church was crowded in every part, and  several Protestants were present. Rev. John Ryan officiated as Celebrant, Rev. R. Foran, Deacon, and Rev. G. Commins, Sub-deacon. Rev. P. Delaney was Master of Ceremonies and the Right Rev. Dr. O’Brien, Bishop of the Diocese, in his robes, occupied the episcopal throne, at the Epistle side of the Altar, attended by the Rev. Messrs. Walsh and O’Brien as Deacons. The ceremonies did not conclude until near 3 o’clock. On Monday there was a  selection of church music played by Mr Best and sung by the same choir, the church being crowded in every part.



Cathedral Organists(from c1840 to the present day):

F. T. Howard until c1858.

Mr. Bilton.

J.F. Murray to 1906.

Dr. J. Storer.

Antoine Begas in 1916.

Stanley Boyer 1936.

MJ Bowman 1941.

John Croghan 1944.

Stanley Boyer 1960.

Fintan O’Carroll 1980.

Kevin O'Carroll 1981.

Patrick Butler 1997.

Cecilia Kehoe from 2005 to 2016.



Below is the organ specification and a picture of the organ in its' present state. Future plans are in mind for the restoration of the organ subject to funding and this huge challenge will be in excess of €400,000.

Organ Specification:


Double diapason 16. 

No.1 Open diapason 8.

No.2 Open diapason 8.

Stopped diapason 8.

Salicional 8.

Quint 5  1/3.

 Principal 4.

 Wald flute 4.

Twelfth 2  2/3.

Fifteenth 2.

Mixture 111.

Mixture 11.

Double trumpet 16.

Trumpet 8.

Clarion 4.

swell sub octave to great.

swell to great.

swell octave to great.

choir to great.

choir octave to great.


Gemshorn 8.

Stopped diapason 8.

Gemshorn 4.

Spitz flute 4.

Nazard 2  2/3.

Tierce 1  3/5.

Larigot 1  1/3.

Trumpet 8.


choir octave.

swell to choir.


Open diapason 8.

Rohr flute 8.

Echo Gamba 8.

Voix celeste 8.

Octave 4.

Suabe flute 4.

Fifteenth 2.

Mixture 111.

Contra oboe 16.

Cornopean 8.

Oboe 8.

Oboe 4.


Swell sub octave.

Swell octave.


Harmonic bass 32.

Open diapason 16.

Bourdon 16.

Octave 8.

Bass flute 8.

Principal 4.

Choral bass 4.

Trombone 16.

Contra oboe 16.

choir to pedal.

great to pedal.

swell to pedal. 

The Present Organist of The Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity:

Cecilia Kehoe(M.Music, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA; Dip.CSM, L.T.C.L(Organ), L.T.C.L.(Piano), is currently the Organist and Music Director of The Cathedral of The Most Holy Trinity, Baronstrand Street, Waterford.

email: ceciliakehoe@gmail.com