History and Beauty at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin

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When someone says St. Patricks’s Cathedral to me, the New Yorker in me automatically thinks of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan.  On our visit to Ireland last year, we discovered the original St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin, an unabashedly Gothic Revival building, which is the National Cathedral of Ireland.

The History of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin

Saint Patrick, patron saint of Ireland, was said to have baptised the local Celts in a well that stood in the park next to the Cathedral. Thanks to its association with St. Patrick, a church has stood on this location since the 5th century.  The church got upgraded to Cathedral status in 1191.  The Cathedral has been rebuilt and extended many times over the years.

St. Patricks' Cathedral in Dublin
A lone minister heads out after services.

The Archbishop of Dublin has his seat at the other Church of Ireland cathedral in Dublin, Christ Church.  Since 1870, St. Patrick’s Cathedral has been designated the National Cathedral because, after all, how many Anglican cathedrals does one predominantly Catholic city need.

St. Patricks' Cathedral in Dublin
A fairly simple altar, you know the Catholic version would have been much more ornate.

The cathedral is the largest church in Ireland.  The spire, an addition from the 18th century, soars 140 feet into the sky and is a local landmark.

I absolutely loved the stained glass and the mosaic floors. There are a lot of Anglo-British paraphernalia around which attests to the time that Ireland was controlled by the British.

St. Patricks' Cathedral in Dublin
Beautiful tile work
St. Patricks' Cathedral in Dublin
The stained glass is mostly Victorian.

Famous People Associated with St. Patrick’s Cathedral

Jonathan Swift, who became famous for writing Gulliver’s Travels, was a Dean of the cathedral from 1713-45.  Along with over 500 other people, Jonathan Swift and his ‘special friend’ Stella are buried in the Cathedral.

The famous oratorio by Handel, Messiah, was first sung at St. Patrick’s Cathedral by its famous choir.  It took about a year for Messiah to have its London debut.

St. Patricks' Cathedral in Dublin
The beautiful nave

Oliver Cromwell on a visit to check out the Irish part of his protectorate in 1649 stabled his army’s horses in the Cathedral. He had no patience for the Church of Ireland which he would have thought was as bad as the Church of England (and a mere papal breadth away from the horror that was Catholicism the horror that was Catholicism).

St. Patricks' Cathedral in Dublin
A bell commemorating the arrival of the French Huguenots.

The Cathedral has a lot of burial plaques which are cool to read and to examine.  Lots of these families went to town decorating their tombs because it was considered quite prestigious to be buried in the Cathedral.

St. Patricks' Cathedral in Dublin
Even the statues are dressed to the nines.
St. Patricks' Cathedral in Dublin
This is a detail of a plaque to the Boyle family the rest of which extends to nearly the ceiling. Ostentatious moi?

Visiting St. Patrick’s Cathedral

St. Patrick’s Cathedral is open 7 days a week and there’s a small admission fee for tourists.  You can just attend a service and skip the fee.  There are no photos allowed, though, during services or when the choir is singing.

There’s a gift shop right by the entrance with all the religious paraphernalia that you may ever wish to buy.  The Cathedral is set in a grassy parkland and there is a small children’s play area as well.  It’s one of the top visitor attractions in Dublin and definitely worth  a short stroll around to understand the turbulent history of this capital city.



St. Patricks Cathedral in Dublin is full of history and beauty

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25 thoughts on “History and Beauty at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin”

  1. I love visiting the Churches when I travel because you can find out a lot about the history of a place from the church. It seems the old Churches and Cathedrals always played a part in history somehow. Great photos also.

  2. I am not a religious person but I have walked into hundreds of churches on our travels. Sometimes the ambience just grabs you and I felt that when I looked at your first photo of the arches. I felt I was there in the quiet peaceful coolness.

    1. I like churches for their history. I’m an occasional Catholic and churches always make me wonder about people who have rock solid faith. Is that easier than questioning everything? Do they have peace of mind?

    1. Yes, I love history so always going into religious places. Possibly I am awed by their level of faith since I find I don’t have much.

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