Destinations Magazine

St Patrick's Cathedral

By Thedublindiary @TheDublinDiary

St Patrick's Cathedral

St Patrick's Cathedral and Park


In mid-July the Lady Chapel in St Patrick's Cathedral was opened to the public following a full restoration. It's the first time it's been open to visitors in 750 years. News of the opening reminded me that I hadn't spent a decent amount of time just wandering around the cathedral and taking in its history. There are tours of the cathedral on offer, but instead, I decided to use the QR readers scattered around the cathedral which you can scan with your smart phone and then hear a recording about different aspects of the cathedral's history and architecture. (Don't forget your earphones!) I liked going at my own pace but, given the structure of the building, sometimes the 3G signal wasn't the best!

St Patrick's Cathedral

The immense interior of St Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin


The Lady Chapel is really fantastic. I couldn't get over the beautiful rich colours of the stained glass and the peacefulness of the chapel. Both combined give a very ethereal feeling. While St Patrick's is vast and almost cavernous the Lady Chapel is small and humble, it's really a fantastic contrast. The Lady Chapel has an interesting history. The exiled Huguenots were granted use of it in 1666 and services were conducted here in French until 1816.

St Patrick's Cathedral

The charming and tranquil interior of The Lady Chapel behind the alter in St Patrick's Cathedral

The cathedral is also strongly associated with Jonathan Swift author of Gulliver's Travels. He was Dean of the cathedral from 1713 to 1745. He died at the grand old age of 78 which was extraordinarily by standards at the time. My little audio snippets informed me his longevity is attributed to his indulgence of two pastimes consider bizarre by his contemporaries, washing daily and exercising daily. Swift is buried in the cathedral alongside his beloved companion Stella.

St Patrick's Cathedral

Bust of Dean Jonathan Swift


Of course I can't mention St Patrick's Cathedral without recourse to the man himself! St Patrick is supposed to have performed baptisms in the area the cathedral is located in. The association with the saint is probably why there's been a church on these grounds since the eleventh century. The baptisms took place in a well fed by the nearby Poddle River. A number of stones covered the well and these are on view in the cathedral along with a number of effigies of the saint.

St Patrick's Cathedral

The cap stone of St Patrick's Well


St Patrick's Cathedral

Some of the effigies of St Patrick throughout the cathedral


Finally one of my favorite things about St Patrick's Cathedral is its claim to the origins of the phrase chancing your arm. The story goes that two Irish families, the Butlers and the Fitzgearlds, were fighting. The Butlers took refuge in St Patrick's. While peace negotiations were fruitful the Butlers were still weary of leaving the cathedral for fear they'd be slaughtered. As a gesture of goodwill a member of the Fitzgearld family hacked a hole in the door and placed his arm through it. Rather than chopping it off one of the Butlers shook his hand and peace was attained. Hence we now have the phrase to chance ones arm! Its use today isn't quite so dramatic though!  


St Patrick's Cathedral

Would you like to chance your arm through this door? 


I'm so glad I finally got around to visiting St Patrick's, it's very enriching to be a tourist in your own home town! I spent a very interesting afternoon there for the small sum of €5.00. When I was leaving the sun was shining and I wandered into the nearby St Patrick's Park and spent some time people watching. Sometimes I just fall head over heels in love with Dublin!

St Patrick's Cathedral

A gnarly but striking looking tree!  



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