St.Patrick’s Cathedral is the largest church in Ireland and is also reputed to be Ireland’s earliest Christian site, where St. Patrick baptized converts. Unusually, Dublin has two cathedrals belonging to the Church of Ireland, which act effectively as co-cathedrals. The Archbishop of Dublin has his official seat in the other one, Christ Church Cathedral Dublin. A wooden St. Patrick’s Church stood on the site from the 5th century to about 1191, when the church was raised to the status of cathedral. The present building, was built between 1191 and 1270. Important events in it’s long history include the establishment of the Choir School in 1432 of which many of its members took part in the very first performance of Handel’s Messiah in 1742. Oliver Cromwell stabled his horses in the nave of the cathedral around 1650. The writer and satirist Jonathan Swift, author of Gulliver’s Travels, was Dean of the cathedral from 1713 to 1745 (his grave and epitaph can still be seen in the cathedral). Inside the church hang many heraldic banners of the former ‘Knights of St Patrick’. Another interesting feature is a door on the south transept with a hole in it, through which James, Earl of Ormond and Gerald, Earl of Kildare, shook hands in 1491 after years of distrust and treachery. Much of the neo-Gothic building you see today dates from a major refurbishment carried out by Sir Benjamin Guinness from 1864 onwards and little is known as to how much is genuinely medieval and how much is Victorian pastiche.

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