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Need to know about the St. Patrick's Cathedral


By Bernd Biege
Ireland Travel Expert, about.com

Saint Patrick's Cathedral is a bit off the beaten path for most tourists - though fairly near to the Liffey and Temple Bar, the walk can be long-ish and (admittedly) a bit uninspiring. But would it be fair to leave this old (though massively renovated) Christian edifice out of your Dublin agenda? Not really, as it holds some important historical artefacts.


Dublin's Saint Patrick's Cathedral in a Nutshell[post_ads_2]

As one of Dublin's two Church of Ireland cathedrals, St. Patrick's is actually designated the "National Cathedral of Ireland". And it lacks the main ingredient that usually makes a cathedral out of a church, whatever the size - a bishop! Yes, St. Patrick's is a bishop-less cathedral ... and thus not the only inconsistency regarding the three cathedrals of Dublin: the Catholic Church calls their Saint Mary's a "pro-cathedral" for historical reasons.

A little bit of history: St. Patrick's was built on (or at least next to) the site where the great missionary himself supposedly baptised the first local converts, besides a "Holy Well", now lost, but remembered by a stone in the park.

Being the largest church in Ireland, size alone makes St. Patrick's well worth a visit ... though it is a bit of a walk from Dublin's city centre. But for friends of world literature this is a pilgrimage, and a must - Jonathan Swift of "Gulliver" fame was dean of and is buried in the cathedral.


The Pros and Cons of Saint Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin[post_ads_2]

On the plus side, we have the following:
  • Saint Patrick's is the National Cathedral of Ireland,
  • it has several interesting tombs and memorials,
  • it contains the graves and memorials of both Dean Swift and his beloved Stella,
  • in the cathedral you'll find the chapel of the (now defunct) Knights of St. Patrick, and
  • there are historical connections to Ireland's patron saint, Patrick himself.
The main negative? Apart from the location (though it is not at the back of beyond) ... the surrounding areas are run-down and uninviting in places.


Waht to Expect at Dublin's St. Patrick's Cathedral[post_ads_2]

Don't expect ancient or even medieval things ... though the locality has Christian tradition reaching back to around 450, the present Saint Patrick's Cathedral is a product of a renovation, bordering on a rebuild, in the 19th century.

Even so I would rate St.Patrick's as one of the top sights of Dublin, though the nearby Christ Church Cathedral is not to be overlooked either. And though standing amidst tenements and sometimes run-down Victorian houses, St. Patrick's is still imposing.

A church reputedly stood here since Patrick's time, and a slab on display attempts to "prove" the connection to the patron saint of Ireland. Even though the current building was not even erected until 1191 ... and underwent a massive re-build in the 1860s, mainly financed by money from the Guinness family.

In the cathedral, the visitor is confronted by hundreds of memorial plaques, busts, and monuments.
Pride of place goes to the Boyle Family Tomb from the 17th century. Smaller mementos are dedicated to Turlough O'Carolan (the famous blind harper) and Douglas Hyde (the first President of Ireland). And, not to forget the main man, to Jonathan Swift (formerly dean of the cathedral) and his beloved "Stella" (Ester Johnson).

Do not miss another unusual monument, a door with a hole - here Lord Kildare literally chanced his arm to shake hands with his enemy Lord Ormonde.

One criticism leveled at St. Patrick's (as well as Christ Church) is that "you have to pay to enter a house of worship". This is not strictly true, the entrance fee is only collected from casual visitors, not from bona fide worshippers.

More Information on Saint Patrick's Cathedral:

  • Address - Saint Patrick's Close, Dublin 8
  • Phone - 01-4539472
  • Please go to the website of Saint Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin, for current opening times, admission prices, and special events. This will also give you the service times, if you wish to worship here.

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Travel Magazine: Need to know about the St. Patrick's Cathedral
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