This remarkable cathedral is steeped in the city’s history, standing proudly in the heart of Dublin for almost a millennium. It’s changed, reformed, and been completely transformed by every important political and religious event since the first record of its existence in 1030. Christ Church Cathedral was the first Cathedral ever built in Dublin, back when Echmarcach mac Ragnaill was still King of Dublin. Since then, it has been the oldest building in constant use in the city.
Christ Church Cathedral sits right in the centre of Dublin, just metres from Dublin Castle, and attracts visitors every day who come to marvel at this ancient building. It’s surrounded by bus stops and you can get to Christ Church Cathedral from anywhere in the city with ease. Any wander around Dublin’s gorgeous sights will take you straight past this impressive place.
Fact, curiosities, and interesting things about Christ Church Cathedral
1. A 1000-Year-Old Relic
Christ Church Cathedral was actually built in 1030, making this experienced old-timer almost 1000 years old. In fact, the historic cathedral is Dublin’s oldest building that’s still in use today despite the harsh weather conditions that have battered the building over the centuries. To help the cathedral brave the cold and rainy Irish winters, the original timber structure was replaced with stone in 1172.
2. An Old Viking Tale
The cathedral was founded by Sigtrygg Silkbeard – a ruthless Viking king who ruled over Dublin from 989 until his expulsion in 1036. Despite being victorious in several bloody battles and leading Dublin to economic prosperity, the king was eventually exiled due to the arrival of a new Hiberno-Norse dynast. After over 45 years of loyal service to the throne, Silkbeard was banished “overseas” – probably to somewhere in Wales or the Isles. These Vikings were truly savage in every sense of the word.
3. A Saint’s Work
By 1152, the Irish church had opened its arms to Christ Church Cathedral, and archbishop Laurence O’Toole (Dublin’s future patron saint) was appointed to oversee goings-on around 10 years later. Thanks to O’Toole, diplomatic proceedings between Dubliners and the Anglo-Normans went ahead without too much bloodshed after the city was captured in 1170. Since the archbishop prevented a full-blown war, few would argue that he wasn’t fully deserving of his future sainthood title.
4. Fancy a Tipple in the Crypt?
Between the 16th and 17th centuries, the cathedral’s crypt was actually transformed into a fully-functioning market. Merchants would come from near and far to sell their finest products including bread, meat, veg and livestock. One of the crypt’s many vaults was even made into a well-frequented pub where worshippers would drink ale and smoke tobacco after a long hard day of, well, worshipping.
5. Saved by Whiskey
Most of the cathedral that we know and love today was heavily Victorianised between 1871 and 1878. In an effort to save the building from deterioration, whiskey distiller Henry Roe donated a whopping £230,000 (worth €35 million today) to fund the cathedral’s well-needed renovations. Because of Roe’s more than generous donation, Christ Church Cathedral still stands proud in the city centre to this day. We’ll drink a whiskey to that!
What can you do at Christ Church Cathedral?
Now you can see this stunning venue located in central Dublin for yourself. Delve into the fascinating medieval crypt and take a look at Christ Church Cathedral’s stunning architecture, majestic tombs and precious medieval artwork that can be found all around this magnificent 11th-century building. Doors open at 10 a.m. and close at 5 p.m. Tours last approximately 40 minutes and include a complimentary set of headphones.
Christ Church Cathedral’s long and important history certainly makes it the perfect spot for Candlelight concerts. There you could hear everything from tributes to classical compositions to film theme tunes and modern pop songs performed by talented artists surrounded by candles. Christ Church Cathedral isn’t hosting these concerts at the moment but you will find them at other iconic venues like the O’Reilly Theatre and St. Andrew’s Parish Church!