Dublin was our starting point for our Irish Wild Atlantic Way road trip and as an introduction to Ireland it did not disappoint. The very first Irish Cathedral I got to explore on our Ireland road trip was Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin.
Even though this Cathedral is tucked away in an urban area that does not really show Dublin’s best side it should definitely be on your list of things to see in Dublin. It is located fairly near to the Liffey and Temple Bar, so not too far off the beaten path for visitors. And although it is standing amidst tenements and sometimes run-down Victorian houses, St. Patrick’s is still imposing.
There are a couple of reasons why I think you should visit this forbidding Cathedral.
1. Saint Patrick’s is the National Cathedral of Ireland. It has played a very important role in the religion of Ireland.
2. It is Ireland’s largest Cathedral.
Saint Patrick’s Cathedral has been part of Ireland’s history for over 800 years. Built in honour of Ireland’s patron saint between 1191 and 1270 Saint Patrick’s Cathedral is one of the few buildings left from medieval Dublin. 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. So we don’t know how much of the current building is genuinely medieval and how much is Victorian.
3. Celtic chieftains were baptised here by St Patrick himself.
It was here that St Patrick himself reputedly baptised the local Celtic chieftains, making this bit of ground some fairly sacred turf.
4. Jonathan Swift, author of Gulliver’s Travels, was Dean of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in the 1700s and he is one of many burials on site.
As we entered the cathedral we almost immediately came across the graves of Swift and his long-time companion Esther Johnson, aka Stella. On the wall nearby are Swift’s own (self-praising) Latin epitaphs to the two of them, and a bust of Swift.
5. The Cathedral is world famous for its choir which still performs daily during school term. We were very fortunate in that we visited on a Sunday, so we stayed for the evening choir song. It was such an amazing experience to sit in this beautiful building while listening to such beautiful music.
The Cathedral is a place where history is alive and tradition breathes, where lives are remembered and transformed, and where all are welcome to experience and explore the loving presence of God.