Although Christ Church Cathedral gets a lot of the Dublin love by travellers visiting the city, St. Patrick’s Cathedral is an equally historic and impressive cathedral that is only a short walk from Christ Church and is one of my favourite places to stop by. Wander off of Dame Street and spend a little time with some of Ireland’s early modern history- there’s a few things at St. Patrick’s that may just surprise you! today I’m sharing exactly why you need to visit St. Patrick’s Cathedral on your next trip to Dublin…
St. Patrick’s Cathedral is only a 15 minute walk from College Green, and it’s a great way to see the Dublin city centre! On the aptly named Patrick’s Street, the cathedral was founded in 1191 and is the National Cathedral of the Church of Ireland. Because it’s off of Dame St, it’s often much quieter than Christ Church- if you try to avoid crowds, it’s the perfect place to get a taste of Dublin and Irish history.
Also, it happens to be the tallest church in Ireland, which is pretty impressive given that the country is full of them.
The Order of St. Patrick
The Order of St Patrick was established by George III in 1783 and was active until 1922 when Ireland became the Irish Free State and was no longer under the control of the British state. Although the roll isn’t as dramatic as the Thistle Chapel in St. Giles, it’s still incredibly ornate in person and is a list of notable figures in Anglo-Irish early modern history.
In the case you have ever studied any sort of English literature, you probably have at least heard of Jonathan Swift- one of the most eminent satirists in the English language! Swift served as the Dean of St. Patrick’s Cathedral from 1713 to 1745, and is even buried there. He is arguably the most well-known Dean of the Cathedral, and you can see his epitaph (and that of his trusted servant) in the Cathedral. On the off chance that you haven’t read anything by Swift, you should give “A Modest Proposal” a read quickly, it’s one of my favourite literary works! (It’s hilarious, and possibly one of the greatest solutions in the world…)
The Stained Glass Windows
Is it even a cathedral if there aren’t at least fifteen stained glass windows?? I love that my shots are mostly dark, as the windows stand out that much more. (I really need to read up on stained glass windows- how do you get them to be so vibrant??) The first is St. Patrick- I would have been sorely disappointed if he hadn’t shown up somewhere, but I suppose it is a given.
The tile floor really stands out as soon as you enter the cathedral- it is bright and intricate and full of fascinating patterns. The tiles are recreations of medieval tiles that were found when Christ Church was restored in the second half of the nineteenth century. It can be quite dark inside the cathedral, but the tiles are still always vibrant. I don’t have a picture of them, but my favourite tiles are the penguin tiles- I mean, they weren’t penguins as the Irish hadn’t seen penguins in the middle ages but I like to think that there was one lone penguin making the rounds.
St. Patrick’s is rich with epitaphs and statues if nothing else- when you consider the staggering cost that each of these would have, it’s pretty amazing to see sculpture after sculpture lining the aisles to celebrate various deeds and lives. What’s interesting about a lot of these figures is that most are Anglo-Irish men- meaning that they don’t occupy a particularly high place in national history of the Republic of Ireland. Also, the first image is a tribute to the last Irish bard- the bards were a higher class of poet that memorised and shared the history of their clan and their island, and were prized members of society. The tradition slowly died with the English conquest of Ireland and the suppression of Irish Gaelic culture.
This stone is supposedly from St. Patrick’s Well in Clonmel- St Patrick was said to have baptised followers using the well waters. The stone was discovered at the beginning of the twentieth century, and was brought to the Cathedral shortly after!
Even if you aren’t religious, I would spend a few moments just sitting in the Cathedral- it’s pretty beautiful, and it is a peaceful and calm respite from an otherwise busy world. It’s a beautiful church tucked away, and represents a volatile but important part of Irish history.
When you travel, where do you find a few moments of piece?