By a quirk of history, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral is one of two Church of Ireland cathedrals in the city of Dublin. It is said that St Patrick – Ireland’s patron saint – blessed a nearby well during his time in Ireland and baptised soem early Christians. Developing from a small parish church outside the walled city of Dublin, Saint Patrick’s was elevated to a collegiate church in 1192 and later became a cathedral. Since 1870 it has been recognised as the National Cathedral for the Church of Ireland.
The Cathedral has been led since 1215 by a dean, and the most famous occupant of the deanery was the satirist and wit Jonathan Swift, who served as Dean from 1713 to 1745. Swift, the author of Gulliver’s Travels and A Modest Proposal among many other works, is buried in the Cathedral.
Saint Patrick’s was extensive rebuilt in the 1860s through the generous patronage of Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness, the head of the famous brewing family. Guinness actually designed much of the exterior features and the beautiful interiors you see today, extraordinary considering that he had no prior training as an architect.
Among the features of the cathedral are the beautiful Lady Chapel, previous a chapel-of-ease for Dublin’s 17thC and 18thC French Huguenot population; the many statues and monuments which line its walls, including memorials to many notable Irish personalities; historic curiosities such as a medieval doorway through which the 16thC rebel ‘Silken Thomas’ Fitzgerald famously offered his hand in friendship to a rival, leading to the phrase ‘to chance your arm’; and many notable graves including that of Swift.
Today the Cathedral stands majestically as a memorial to our historic past, but it also remains a working cathedral with an active ministry in the city.
Saint Patrick’s Cathedral features on the Culture Date With Dublin 8 Attractions Passport.
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