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St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin

History

Blessed Sacrament windowFor over fifteen centuries Christian worship has been offered on the site of St Patrick’s Cathedral making it the oldest Christian site in Dublin. In a well close to where the Cathedral now stands, St Patrick is reputed to have baptised converts from Paganism to Christianity.

To commemorate his visit, a small wooden church was built on this site, one of the four Celtic parish churches in Dublin. In 1191, under John Comyn, the first Anglo-Norman Archbishop of Dublin, St Patrick’s was raised to the status of Cathedral and the present building, the largest church in the country was erected between 1200 and 1270.

 

Architecture

Over the centuries as wind and weather, fire and flood, religious reformation and persecution took their toll, the Cathedral fell into serious disrepair despite many attempts to restore it.

Eventually, between 1860 and 1900, a full-scale restoration based on the original design was carried out by the Guinness family.

Attractions

Memorials abound in the Cathedral to famous and not so famous Irishmen, including soldiers, political figures, writers, musicians and Presidents of Ireland. Jonathan Swift was Dean from 1713 until his death in 1745 and his grave and epitaph are situated near the entrance of the Cathedral. The massive West Tower dates from 1370 and houses the largest peal of bells in Ireland. The Choir School was founded in 1432 and the Cathedral Choir took part in the first performance of Handel’s Messiah in 1742.