St Patrick’s Cathedral is the Church of Ireland’s national cathedral, and is located on the outskirts of the city. It is the biggest church in Ireland and was constructed between 1191 and 1270, in honour of Ireland’s parton saint, Saint Patrick. Although, a church has stood on this site since the 5th century. It has a long eclectic and dramatic history and it was here that St Patrick is said to have baptised the local Celtic chieftains and converts. It is also of religious and architectural importance here in Ireland, being one of few remaining buildings from medieval times.
The cathedral has altered in design several times over the years and underwent considerable rebuilding in the 1870’s as there was fear it would collapse, records were not kept so it is not evident what aspects of the building are genuinely medieval and how much is Victorian reproduction. Nevertheless, it still is a wonderful piece of Gothic Revival architecture with many lovely features including its stained glass windows and decorative floor. Visitors will also find hundreds of memorial plaques, busts and monuments here. The organ here is one of the biggest in Ireland with in excess of 4,000 pipes. Elements of it date from a Renatus Harris instrument of 1695. The organ has been rebuilt and restored over the intervening years.
The Cathedral has over five hundred burial tombs on site, both under the cathedral’s floor and in the graveyard outside. The most famous being Jonathan Swift, author of Gulliver’s Travels, he was the Dean of Saint for the Cathedral in the 1700’s. There are a number of other interesting tombs and memorials located here.
During his stay in Dublin, Oliver Cromwell stabled his horses in the nave of the Cathedral, a real insult to the cathedral and its worshippers.
Guided tours of the Cathedral take place frequently during the day, experienced and friendly guides bring the history of the Cathedral to life through the stories they tell. Visitors can also use the free App to take a self-guided tour. The staff are also happy to answer any questions visitors may have.
The Cathedral is world renowned for its choir, the Choir School was established in 1432, a number of its members were involved in the first performance of Handel’s Messiah here in 1742. The composition is on display in a glass case in the cathedral. The choir continues to perform lunchtime music recitals during the term time. It is a beautiful and humbling experience to hear them sing, the acoustics are superb. It is also the location for a number of public national ceremonies throughout the year.
St Patrick’s Cathedral is open daily during the year. Vistors are welcome to come and enjoy its calming but gorgeous surroundings, a really beautiful building.