Places to visit: Churches

Christchurch Cathedral

Christ Church Cathedral

Christ Church Cathedral (founded c.1028) is the spiritual heart of the city, and one of the top visitor attractions in Dublin. Enjoy the cathedral’s beautiful interior and fascinating medieval crypt.

Explore the crypt – Follow the steps that bring you beneath the cathedral and explore the medieval crypt, one of the largest in Britain and Ireland, and the earliest surviving structure in the city. The crypt houses fascinating memorials, the cat and the rat, the Treasury (an exhibition of manuscripts and treasures), an audio visual presentation, the cathedral shop and the cathedral café.

Follow in the footsteps of pilgrims – Christ Church Cathedral was a major pilgrimage site in the medieval period, with an important collection of relics ranging from a miraculous speaking cross to a piece from the crib of Jesus. Today, it is still possible to see one of these relics, the heart of Laurence O’Toole, patron saint of Dublin.

Visit the ‘Cat & the Rat’ – A mummified cat and rat are the most unusual inhabitants of the crypt and are mentioned by James Joyce in “Finnegan’s Wake”.

Experience Evensong – The choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, enjoys an enviable reputation as one of Ireland’s finest choirs, and is constantly in demand to perform in concerts, on tours and on radio broadcasts nationwide. Tracing its origins to 1493 with the founding of the choir school, the cathedral choir has always been highly regarded in Dublin’s musical life and took part in the first performance of Handel’s Messiah in Dublin in 1742.

Opening Times Mon-Sat:
March, October 9.30 am-6.00 pm
April-Sept 9.30 am–7.00 pm
Nov-Feb 9.30 am-5.00 pm
Opening times Sundays:
March, October 12.30 pm-2.30 pm, 4.30 pm-6.00 pm
April -Sept 12.30 pm-2.30 pm, 4.30 pm-7.00 pm
Nov -Feb 12.30 pm-2.30 pm

Closed 26 December

www.christchurchdublin.ie

Christchurch Place, Dublin 8.

Tel: 01 677 8099.

Adults €6.50; concessions.

Guided tours of the cathedral, which now all incorporate the belfry, take place at 12.10 pm, 2.00 pm, and 4.00 pm Monday – Friday; and at 2.00 pm, 3.00 pm and 4.00 pm on Saturday. All guided tours give you the opportunity to visit the belfry and ring the bells of Christ Church Cathedral yourself. The tour costs €4 (on top of the €6.50 normal visitor fee).

One can also enjoy the Christ Church Cathedral Belfry Tour on weekends, gaining an insight into the culture of ringers (campanologists) by a practising ringer and teacher of the art. These weekend tours take place at 11.30 am and 1.15 pm on Saturdays and at 1.15 pm on Sundays. The tour costs €4 (on top of the €6.50 normal visitor fee).

Pepper Canister

The Pepper Canister **

The Pepper Canister Church (real name St. Stephen’s Church) was the last of a distinguished series of Georgian churches built by the Church of Ireland. New suburbs were being built on the estates of families now commemorated in the names of the streets and squares of Dublin – names like Gardener (Mountjoy), Dawson, Molesworth, and Pembroke (Herbert).

Historic parish residents included Oscar Wilde, Sheridan Le Fanu, the Duke of Wellington, W.B. Yeats, Elizabeth Bowen and Thomas Davis.

Major conservation works were completed in 2010.

St. Stephen’s is a popular concert venue.

The church is open Monday-Friday 11.00 am – 2.00 pm excluding holiday periods; visitors are welcome.

www.peppercanister.ie

Mount Street Crescent, Dublin 2.

Tel: 01 6767727

St Audeons Church

St. Audoen’s Church

St. Audoen’s Church – sited in the heart of the walled medieval city – is the only remaining medieval parish church in Dublin. It is dedicated to St Ouen, the 7th century bishop of Rouen and patron saint of Normandy.

The Guild Chapel of St Anne houses an award-winning exhibition on the importance of St Audoen’s Church in the life of the medieval city. Visitors to St Audoen’s will see the part of the church still in use by the Church of Ireland as a parish church. They can also view the 17th century memorials to the Sparke and Duff families and the 15th century effigial tomb to Baron Portlester and his wife.

Open 20 Apr-26 Oct: 9.30 am–5.30 pm.

Guided tours.

www.heritageireland.ie

Cornmarket, Dublin 8.

Tel: 01 677 0088.

Free admission.

St Mary's Abbey

St. Mary’s Abbey

St. Mary’s Abbey is one of Dublin’s best kept secrets. It was once the wealthiest Cistercian Abbey in Ireland. Today only two rooms remain – the Chapter House and the Slype.

The Abbey, founded in 1139, played a large role in the affairs of the state until its dissolution by Henry VIII in 1539. It was in the Chapter House that “Silken” Thomas Fitzgerald started his unsuccessful rebellion in 1534 and it is in this context that the Abbey is mentioned in the “Wandering Rocks” chapter of Ulysses by James Joyce.

Today it contains a fascinating exhibition put together by the Office of Public Works along with the Dublin Archaeological Society and the History of Art Department of Trinity College, Dublin.

The Abbey is closed until further notice. It is normally open from 4 June-26 September on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10.00 am-5.00 pm.

www.heritageireland.ie

Meetinghouse Lane, Off Capel Street, Dublin 1.

Tel: 01- 6476000 (Noreen Finnegan).

Admission free.

St Michans Church

St. Michan’s Church

St. Michan’s Church is situated on Church Street behind Dublin’s Four Courts and near the old city fruit and vegetable markets. St. Michan’s church is the oldest parish church on the north side of the river Liffey.

Originally founded in 1095 (as an early Danish chapel), the present church dates from 1685 and was renovated in 1825. Internally the church retains its original galleried interior and organ. The interior is little changed since Victorian times. The pulpit, now displayed at the back of the church, was commissioned from Christopher Stephens in February 1724. The staircase dates from 1724. Another remarkable survival is the ‘oak moving desk’ or ‘Penitents desk’. Used for public confession, it was commissioned in 1724.

The delightfully decorated organ was built by John Baptiste Cuvillie between 1723-1725. In front of the gallery is the ‘Organ Trophy’, a piece of wood depicting 17 musical instruments, possibly carved by Henry Houghton or John Houghton. The ‘Trophy’ was installed in 1724. Legend has it that Handel practised for the first performance of the ‘Messiah’ on this organ.

Underneath the church are five long burial vaults containing the mummified remains of many of Dublin’s most influential 17th, 18th and 19th century families, including the legendary Shears brothers and the highly decorated coffins of the Earls of Leitrim. The constant dry atmosphere has caused the mummification of the bodies and the preservation of the coffins. Since Victorian times visitors have descended the vault steps to see the mummies; Bram Stoker, creator of the ‘Dracula’ stories, is believed to have visited. In one vault can be seen the remains of the “Crusader”, though in fact he is only 650 years dead.

Tours of church and vaults:
Mon-Fri 1 Nov–16 March 12.30 pm-3.30 pm
Mon-Fri 17 March–31 Oct 10.00 am-12.45 pm & 2.00 pm-4.30 pm.
Sat (all year round) 10.00 am-12.45 pm
No tours on Sundays
Closed on bank holidays
Closed for Easter weekend (Friday-Monday inclusive)
Closed 23 Dec to 1 Jan inclusive

www.cccgroup.dublin.anglican.org

St. Michan’s Church, Church Street, Dublin 7.

Tel: 01 872 4154.

Adults €6; concessions.

St Patricks Cathedral

St. Patrick’s Cathedral *****

St. Patrick’s Cathedral dates from 1220-1259. It was constructed on the site of an ancient well (supposed to have been used by Saint Patrick himself). The building replaced an earlier wooden church.

Archbishop John Comyn was responsible for elevating Saint Patrick’s to Cathedral status but the credit for its construction must go to Archbishop Luke (1219-1260). He built a Gothic cathedral in a cruciform shape. It is believed that the design was based on Old Sarum Cathedral, near Salisbury in England.

The building constantly evolved over the course of the next 700 years. In 1270 the Lady Chapel (later to be known as the French Chapel because of its connection with the Huguenots) was added. In 1316 a violent storm blew down the spire of the building and in 1362 the Cathedral suffered substantial damage after an accidental fire. In 1370 repairs to the nave and the tower were carried out. This structure also collapsed (1394) destroying much of the west end of the Cathedral in the process. Eventually the tower was rebuilt but was never renamed.

After the English Reformation Saint Patrick’s became an Anglican Cathedral and modifications were made to its interior to suit new theological changes. The turbulence of the period led to neglect of the fabric of the building. The Cathedral was demoted to the status of a parish church and also saw use as a court house and for a short period as a university. It was restored to cathedral status in 1555.

By the start of the 19th century it was once again in a dire state of disrepair but was handed a lifeline by Benjamin Lee Guinness who offered to bear the total cost of the restoration. Between 1860 and 1865 the Cathedral was closed for massive restoration and repair. Overall Guinness spent approximately £150,000 on the restoration project.

Jonathan Swift was Dean here from 1713–1745. Handel’s Messiah received its first performance here (1742). There are two sung services every day. There is also a permanent exhibition called “Living Stones”.

Open Mar-Oct: Mon-Fri 9.30 am-5.00 pm; Sat 9.00 am-6.00 pm; Sun 9.00 am-10.30 am, 12.30 pm-2.30 pm, 4.30 pm-6.00 pm.
Nov-Feb: Mon-Fri 9.30 am-5.00 pm; Sat 9.00 am-5.00 pm; Sun 9.00 am-10.30 am, 12.30 pm-2.30 pm.
Closed 24-26 December.

Excellent guided tours daily (at no extra cost). In the off season, there are only two tours a day (Mon-Sat) at 10.30 am and 2.30 pm. As visitor numbers increase (towards the summer), tours are Mon-Sat at 10.30 am, 11.30 am, 2.30 pm, 3.00 pm and 3.30 pm. In the high season (June 1 to August 31) – there are tours every half hour between 10.00 am and 12.00 pm, and every half hour between 2.00 pm and 3.30 pm. An audio guide of the Cathedral can be downloaded from its website.

The official website is hard to navigate and is erratic in terms of clear information about guided tours and closures. You can book an admission ticket online but you cannot book one of the routine guided tours online (they operate on a first come, first served basis).

www.stpatrickscathedral.ie

Saint Patrick’s Close, Dublin 8.

Tel: 01 453 9472.

Adults €6.50; concessions.

 

Mellifont Abbey

Mellifont Abbey

Mellifont Abbey was the first Cistercian monastery in Ireland (founded in 1142 by St Malachy of Armagh). The abbey’s most unusual feature is the octagonal Lavabo (c. 1200). The Visitor Centre houses an interesting exhibition on the work of masons in the Middle Ages with fine examples of their craft on display. Access to the site is by a stone stairway.

Guided tours available on request.

Open June 1-August 30 daily 10.00 am-6.00 pm.

www.heritageireland.ie

Tullyallen, Drogheda, Co. Louth.

Tel: 041 982 6459.

Adults €5; concessions. Free admission on the first Wednesday of every month.