In the summer of 2019 our family had the chance to spend almost three months in Dublin and I’ll try to tell you about everything interesting, popular or not, in the city. Overall, I wouldn’t say that I liked Dublin much, unlike Ireland. If you go out of the city everything is gorgeous, but Dublin itself not so much… There were amazing places, of course, and I will tell you about one of them now.
Christ Church Cathedral is the Mother Church of the United Dioceses of Dublin & Glendalough. It has been a place of worship for almost 1,000 years. Renowned for its beauty, architecture and exquisite floor tiles, it is home to the famous 12th Century crypt, one of the oldest and largest in Britain and Ireland. Perfectly located in the heart of Medieval Dublin, it was founded in 1030 by Sitric, King of the Dublin Norsemen and was incorporated into the Irish Church in 1152 and eventually led by the famous Archbishop and patron saint of Dublin, Laurence O’Toole.
The exterior was almost entirely refaced with new stone during the restoration of 1875 but retains the original Norman and Early English structure. South of the transept are the ruins of the 13th-century chapter house. The transept itself has a fine Romanesque portal, which was moved here from the north side in 1826.
The nave was begun in 1234 in the Early English style, with pointed arches. The south wall of the nave was rebuilt in the 17th century after the vault collapsed, but the north wall is original. Also original from the 13th century are the west bay of the choir and carved capitals in the nave, transept and choir.
The south aisle of the nave contains the tomb of Strongbow, with an impressive effigy of an armored knight. The small figure may have a visceral monument, intended to hold the organs of the nobleman. Also in the south aisle is the state pew, reserved for national government officials. The north aisle contains the civic pew, used by the Lord Mayor and city officials, and the baptistery donated by Sir Thomas Drew.
The Victorian choir screen was made by G. E. Street in 1875, but the fine brass lectern is from the late medieval period. The transept and choir are the earliest parts of the cathedral other than the crypt, dating from the late 12th and early 13th centuries. The north transept has a monument to Sir Henry Sydney; the south has the tomb of 19th Earl of Kildare.
On the east side of the south transept is the Chapel of St. Laurence O’Toole, which centers on a heart-shaped iron reliquary containing the saint’s embalmed heart. Remarkably, the relic survived the Reformation and still stands in its original location. Other medieval survivals in this chapel include the 13th-century floor tiles, which were used as a model for the 19th-century tiles elsewhere, and the effigies of a prior and a lady who is said to be the wife or sister of Strongbow.
The medieval crypt is a fascinating part of this historic building where visitors can discover fascinating artefacts, memorials and the famous mummified ‘cat and the rat’. This unusual pair are two of the most visited exhibits of the crypt and were even mentioned in James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake. The Treasures of Christ Church exhibition is well worth a visit, where visitors can see old religious relics including priceless silver and Ireland’s first copy of Magna Carta.
The entry for the Cathedral costs 8 euro per adult and 3.50 for children under 12 years old.
In the cathedral yard there is a Khachker – a traditional Armenian cross made from volcanic stone – as a memorial to the estimated 1.5 million Armenian Christians who were systematically and brutally murdered by the Ottoman regime in the “Medz Yeghern” – the Great Crime – which took place 100 years ago, beginning in April 1915.
A new Homeless Jesus sculpture, the first of its kind outside North America, has been put in the grounds of Christ Church Cathedral. The work by Canadian sculptor Tim Schmalz is a 7ft cast bronze park bench, depicting Christ hidden beneath blankets – his identity betrayed only by the holes in his feet. Designed to prompt public reflection on the plight of the homeless, it has been presented by an anonymous North American Episcopalian benefactor.
Stay tuned and don’t stop travelling!