A tour of the cathedral will include a trip up – and explanation of – the belltower, and if you are lucky your guide will let you have a go at ringing the bells.
Located in the heart of medieval Dublin, the impressive Christ Church is one of the city’s two cathedrals dating from that period, boasting a history of nearly a thousand years. The original wooden structure was founded in around 1028, but the magnificent building we can see today was not put in place until shortly after the Anglo-Norman invasion of 1170. This initiative was spearheaded by “Strongbow”, otherwise known as Richard de Clare, Earl of Pembroke, whose tomb now occupies the Southern aisle. The original tomb was smashed when part of the nave’s roof collapsed in 1562, and a replacement tomb brought was in from Drogheda, meaning that the armoured figure you can see adorning the side is not in fact Strongbow himself, but more likely the Earl of Drogheda.
The Mummies in the Crypt
Beneath the nave lies the largest cathedral crypt in the British Isles. It dates from the original Viking church, and at 63m long, its arched roof and sheer size cannot fail to impress. One of its more curious features is the glass case containing “Tom and Jerry”, a church cat and mouse who died after becoming stuck in an organ pipe in the 1860s, and now lie mummified here in the crypt.
Ringing a Bell
High above in the belltower hang no less than 19 bells, a world record for bells rung in this way. It is thought that there has been at least bell here since the cathedral’s foundation, but their numbers only really started to grow when recasting was required after the enormous explosion of the Dublin Gunpowder Disaster in 1597, which cracked the bells and caused extensive damage to the city in general.
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