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 Hours:

Mon, Wed and Friday and Sat: 9.30 am – 6pm
Tues and Thurs: 9:30am – 5:30pm
Sun: 12:30pm – 3pm and 4:30pm – 6pm
Opening times may vary seasonally.
Please see here for current opening hours, and for exceptions to regular opening hours.

Admission includes a self-guided tour of the cathedral & crypt, and an audio guide. Audio guides are available in English, French, German, Spanish, and Italian.

Group tickets can be purchased in advance.
Please note that guided group tours must be pre-booked.

Contact & Pricing:
Tel: 01 677 8099
Christchurch Place, Dublin 8
Adults €11.50; concessions

The Church

The Church

The former St. Mary’s Church of Ireland is one of the earliest examples of a galleried church in Dublin. Built at the beginning of the 18th century, it boasts many outstanding features, such as the Renatus Harris built organ and a spectacular stained glass window. Important historical figures associated with St. Mary’s include Arthur Guinness, Sean O’Casey, Wolfe Tone, John Wesley, Jonathan Swift and George Frederic Handel.

St. Mary’s closed in 1964 and lay derelict for a number of years. Beautifully restored, it is now a café, bar and restaurant.

Opening Hours:
The venue is open from 10:30am – 11pm or later 7 days a week.
Self-guided tours are from 10:30am until 5pm.
You can use this leaflet (in a variety of languages) to guide you through your visit.
Persons under 21 will not be permitted on the premises at any time without a guardian.

Contact & Pricing:
Tel: 01 828 0102
Junction of Mary St & Jervis St, Dublin 1

Dalkey Castle

Dalkey Castle and Heritage Centre

Dalkey Castle is one of the seven fortified town houses/castles of Dalkey. The castles  were built to store goods off-loaded in Dalkey during the Middle Ages, when Dalkey acted as the port for Dublin. From the mid-1300s to the late 1500s, large Anglo-Norman ships could not access Dublin, as the river Liffey was silted up. But they could anchor safely in the deep waters of Dalkey Sound. The castles all had defensive features to protect goods from being plundered. These are all still visible on the site.

On site you will find a medieval castle/fortified townhouse, an early Christian Church, a state of the art Heritage Centre, and a Writers’ Gallery with portraits and interactive screens featuring the work of 45 writers and creative artists. Climb to the battlements for panoramic views of sea and mountains. Enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the early Christian Church and Graveyard, dedicated to Saint Begnet. Browse the interactive time line from early Christian through Viking, Medieval, Victorian and modern times.

Guided living history tours – Professional actors bring history to life with a fun theatre performance as part of the guided tour. Travel back in time and be enthralled by the work of the Archer, the Cook and the travelling Barber-Surgeon. Actors from Deilg Inis Living History Theatre Company involve you in their lives, their work and their stories.

Opening Hours:
Mon to Fri 10am – 6.00pm. Closed Tuesdays.
Sat, Sun & Bank Holidays 11am – 6.00 pm
Open until 6pm in June, July & August.

Special events, tours and prices vary seasonally.
Advanced online booking is recommended.
Entry to the Heritage Centre is included in the guided tour price.

Contact & Pricing:
Tel: 01 285 8366.
Castle Street, Dalkey, Co. Dublin.
Adults starting from €16; concessions.


Irish Jewish Museum

The Irish Jewish Museum houses a collection of photographs, paintings, and memorabilia telling the story of Ireland’s Jewish communities in Dublin & other Irish cities over the last 150 years. Staffed by volunteers, the museum is located on the site of Dublin’s Walworth Road Synagogue, once in the heartland of “Little Jerusalem,” a densely populated Jewish enclave off the South Circular Road.

Opening Hours:
Open to the public every Sunday, 11am – 2.30pm.
Groups and tours will be facilitated outside these hours by appointment only.
The museum is closed on National and Jewish Holidays.

Contact & Pricing:
Tel: 089 426 3625
3 Walworth Road, South Circular Road, Dublin 8
Adults  €10; concessions

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.

More information online

Opening Hours:
St. Stephen’s is occasionally a concert venue, but these are rare and are poorly advertised. The only way to guarantee gaining admission to the church is by attending 11 am service on the first Sunday of the month (the building is open from 10.30 am to 12.30 pm).

Contact & Pricing:
Tel: 01 676 7727
Mount Street Crescent, Dublin 2

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.

Opening Hours:
April to October: 9.30am – 5.30pm, last entry at 4.45pm

Contact & Pricing:
Tel: 01 677 0088
Cornmarket, Dublin 8
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.

The area is currently being excavated in preparation for a hotel development.

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.

Opening Hours:
Apr to Oct: Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays weekly from 10am.
Nov to Mar: Mon to Fri, 12.30pm – 3.30pm
No tours on Saturdays, Sundays or Bank Holidays.
Closed: Easter weekend (Friday-Monday),  23 Dec to 1 Jan
No booking required; tours ongoing during opening hours.

Contact & Pricing:
Tel: 01 872 4154
St. Michan’s Church, Church Street, Dublin 7
Adults €7; 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”.

Opening Hours:
Mon to Fri: 9am – 5:00pm
Sat: 9am – 6pm
Sun: 9am – 6pm

Free guided tours take place throughout the day. Ask at the front desk for the time of the next tour. Tour times are not guaranteed and tours cannot be booked. The tours are conducted by volunteer tour guides.

On arrival at the Cathedral, staff can inform visitors of any free guided tours due to begin or currently in progress. If no tour is available, you can ask for an audio guide and written information/maps (no extra charge). You can book an admission ticket online but you cannot book one of the guided tours online.
Closed 24 – 26 December.

Contact & Pricing:
Tel: 01 453 9472
Saint Patrick’s Close, Dublin 8
Adults €10; concessions

Mellifont Abbey

Old 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.

Opening Hours:
Mid-May to mid-September: 7 days a week, 10am – 5pm
Guided tours available on request.

Contact & Pricing:
Tel: 041 982 6459 / 041 988 0300
Tullyallen, Drogheda, Co. Louth
Adults €5; concessions. Free admission on the first Wednesday of each month.