For a Catholic country, it is ironic that the two largest cathedrals in Dublin are both Protestant. But that’s a good indication of its long history as part of Britain before the struggle for Irish independence succeeded in the 20th century.
The current English Gothic style St Patrick’s Cathedral dates from 1220 and is situated next to the well said to be where Saint Patrick baptized pagans to become Christians on his visit to Dublin in the 5th century. Over the centuries the church had fallen into disrepair but in the late 19th century restoration work was done, largely sponsored by the famous Guinness family. Today the cathedral is officially The National Cathedral of the Church of Ireland (a church of the Anglican communities). It has the largest church organ in Ireland and the bells are also impressively loud when they ring so be prepared for some aural experiences as well as history. In fact, St Patrick’s is so proud of its musical heritage and acoustics that it holds a program of visiting musicians and choirs for lunchtime and evening recitals, so check out what’s on.
Jonathan Swift, most famous for writing Gulliver’s Travels, was Dean here during the 18th century and his tomb, death mask and even writing desk and chair are all on display. Ireland does love its writers! It is still very actively a place of worship and you can attend services, including the lovely Evensong, for free. It is also open to visitors but there is a ticket price for sightseeing. There are two guided tours a day – late morning and early afternoon.