From the workshop of Claddagh Jewellers we are privileged to get a beautiful view of St. Nicholas Church. St. Nicholas' is the largest medieval parish church in Ireland. The Gothic medieval architecture is undeniable with it's carved gargoyles, pointed arches and grandiose stained glass windows. Beautiful carvings can be seen both inside and outside the church such as: mermaids, an eagle and a dragon.
It is thought that the building commenced by around 1320. It was an ambitious project at the time as Galway was a small town. Although originally the design had a simple cruciform plan, the St. Nicholas we know today is much more complex. Thanks to an influx of money due to trading and the high tax rates at the time, the church expanded and became more elaborate with addition of new doorways, plaques and windows.
Within the church, tombs and stone carvings pay homage to those long gone before us. They include: the "Shoemaker Tomb", the remains of the tomb of James Lynch - the first Mayor of Galway who is believed to have hung his own son and the "Vocational Stones" - a collection of stones which bear the symbols of the deceased's trade.
The church has a rich history. Two of the Galway's famous "Tribes" families: the Lynches and the Ffrenches both built a new side aisle each changing the cross architecture. In unhappier times the church seen the arrival of Cromwellian soldiers whom are thought to be responsible for the cutting the heads and hands off the carved figures inside the church. Christopher Columbus himself was said to have attended mass in the chapel of the blessed sacrament in 1477.
The church is now a magnificent relic of the past, yet all the while still possessing the essence of spirituality, congregation and song as it did long ago. Today music and events are hosted within the grand walls of the church which provides hauntingly beautiful acoustics in a way that only a church can. From the time it was erected to this day, St. Nicolas' is a meaningful landmark to the people of Galway and long may it stand!