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Saint Patrick’s Cathedral

Ireland's largest church, built where St Patrick himself reputedly baptised local Celtic chieftains - and making Dublin a two-cathedral city.

TravelCurious Tip

Even if you are not religious, it is worth attending one of the services – the combination of the organ and choir with the cathedral’s acoustics is breathtaking.

Although nearby Christ Church Cathedral is slightly older, St. Patrick’s is bigger, and thus holds the distinction of being the largest church in Ireland. It was founded here in 1191 to honour the place where the patron saint of Ireland supposedly baptised Celtic chieftains and other religious converts on his visit to Dublin. The actual spot is a well in St. Patrick’s Park, adjacent to the cathedral, which is a lovely place to sit and watch the world go by as you take a break from a day’s wandering.

Fury at the English

The cathedral itself, like anything in Ireland that has been around for a while, has had to weather some pretty turbulent episodes over the years. During the English Reformation, St. Patrick’s was converted into an Anglican cathedral, a move which was strongly resented by the still-catholic local population. In the 17th century this bitterness deepened to anger when Oliver Cromwell, as a mark of disrespect for Anglicanism, appropriated the nave to stable his horses during his conquest of Ireland.

Religion on the Grandest Scale

Today, the cathedral cannot fail to impress with its 43-metre spire, intricate stonework and spectacular stained glass windows. It seems even larger from the inside and, looking at the vaulted ceiling high above you, it seems impossible that a structure this grand could have been built 800 years ago. Highlights inside include the grave and epitaph of Jonathan Swift, who was the cathedral’s dean for over 30 years, and the enormous organ, which has over 4,000 pipes.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Dublin
Ha’penny Bridge
An elegant icon of Dublin, the first pedestrian bridge to cross the Liffey.
Temple Bar
A lively cultural and creative quarter on the south bank of the River Liffey.
Dublin City Hall
A masterpiece of the civic Georgian architecture for which Dublin is renowned.
Irish Houses of Parliament
Today a branch of the Bank of Ireland, the old Irish Parliament buildings were a radical Neoclassical creation.
Dublin Castle
Originally built to defend Norman Dublin, this handsome castle is now the city's historic heart.
Christ Church Cathedral
Dublin's photogenic eldest cathedral has been a place of worship for nearly 1000 years.

Related Tours

Dublin’s Literati: a Walking Tour
Ireland is famed for its rolling landscapes and tranquility, so it is no surprise that many famous literary figures grew up in Ireland, and based their novels of such settings.  

  • Visit the famed Trinity College Library where notable Dubliners, like Oscar Wilde and Bram Stoker, studied
  • Wander Merrion Square, where dozens of famous Dubliners called home, including Yeats and Wilde
  • Stop by St. Patrick's Cathedral where Jonathan Swift is buried
  • Stop for a pint in Davy Byrne's pub, famous for its appearance in James Joyce's Ulysses
Dublin: City of Literature

UNESCO recognises Dublin as a City of Literature, reflecting the city’s rich and varied history of writers and writing. During your tour, you will meander  through the streets, libraries and book stores woven into the stories and lives of Ireland's most  celebrated Irish thinkers. From Nobel Literature Prize winners WB Yeats, GB Shaw and Samuel Beckett to its beloved James Joyce, Dublin is brimming with stories of its favourite authors waiting to be heard. 

One of your tour's highlights includes a visit to the famed Trinity College campus, Ireland's first and most acclaimed university. Here you will learn about the college’s numerous treasures, as well as lesser known tales of some of its most renowned alumni, like Bram Stoker and Oscar Wilde.  Your campus tour culminates with a special visit  to the Old Library where an ancient Irish masterpiece, the Book of Kells, can be seen. 

Ireland’s Literary Greats

In Merrion Square, where many houses have plaques detailing the rich and famous who once lived in the area, you will learn more about the life of Dublin’s most famous son, the writer and dramatist Oscar Wilde. At St Patrick’s Cathedral, you will hear about the illustrious writer and satirist Jonathan Swift, who had a lifelong connection to the cathedral's Dean. Whilst pausing at his tombstone, you will hear about some of Swift's triumphs and greatest controversies. 

Next, find yourself stepping back into the 18th century with a visit to Marsh’s Library. Unchanged for three centuries, this perfectly preserved library of the early Enlightenment—with its original oak bookcases— houses more than 25,000 rare and obscure books.

Lastly, your literary tour of Dublin would not be complete without a visit to Sweny’s Pharmacy and a literary pub such as Davy Byrne’s. Both made appearances in James Joyce’s Ulysses and are bursting with interesting tidbits about the famous novelist and poet.

We built this tour because Dublin played an influential role in the writings of many renowned literary figures. 


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