Saint Finnbarr’s Collegiate Chapel, more commonly known as the Honan Chapel, has four main purposes:
The Honan Chapel is independent of UCC and is funded not by the Catholic Church, but by the Honan Trust. Although the chapel is Catholic, other religious denominations also have designated roles within the chapel.
The chapel can hold over 200 people. Currently two masses are held each day. Christmas and Easter services are also celebrated.
Although funerals and baptisms are not a traditional part of the chapel’s role, conferrings and weddings are. Anyone connected with the National University of Ireland is entitled to marry in the Honan Chapel; last year there were approximately 180 weddings.
Students and staff of UCC use the chapel more than the general public or the local community.
Practicality vs. Preservation
The current priest, Fr. Michael Regan, is faced with a huge challenge in making the Honan Chapel accessible to all. Many undergraduates find the chapel too formal and would like it modernised, whereas most staff and graduates seek its preservation.
The chapel was built primarily to serve undergraduates. In recent years, however, undergraduate attendance has been steadily declining. The continuous focus on preservation has caused many young people to regard the chapel as a museum rather than a living place of worship.
The design of the vestry is impractical, but cannot be updated without damaging the interior arrangement.
Computerised lighting systems are necessary for modern-day purposes, but they cannot be installed in the chapel without damaging the building.
The doors of a chapel should always be open. The doors of the Honan Chapel, however, must be kept closed to protect the delicate mosaic floor from exposure.
The standardised seating arrangements in the chapel restrict viewing of the artwork.