Step into Christ Church Cathedral – the Spiritual Heart of Dublin for almost 1,000 years
Christ Church Cathedral, originally a Viking Church, is almost 1,000 years old. It was founded circa 1028, is Dublin’s oldest working structure, and is the spiritual heart of Dublin. It is also one of Ireland’s top visitor attractions and a place of pilgrimage through the centuries.
Step into the Cathedral and you will discover its beautiful interior, a magnificent nave, a fascinating medieval crypt, and many important treasures – reflecting part of the history of Ireland, both religious and political.
When you visit, you can choose to enjoy a self-guided tour or a fully-guided tour. Admission tickets can be purchased online here and are valid for use within 365 days of purchase. By purchasing a ticket, you are contributing towards the maintenance of the Cathedral and are helping preserve it for future generations.
There’s so much for you to see and discover at Christ Church Cathedral.
The Nave is magnificent in its beauty. It contains the tomb of Richard de Clare (Strongbow), a medieval Norman-Welsh peer and warlord, notable for his leading role in the Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland. It also includes the heart of Saint Laurence O’Toole (1128 –1180), who is Dublin’s patron saint, and was Archbishop of Dublin at the time of the Norman invasion of Ireland.
The Crypt and Treasures of Christ Church exhibition
The restored 12th-century crypt, one of the largest in Ireland or the UK, now houses the important Treasures of Christ Church exhibition. The exhibition features manuscripts and artefacts that give the visitor some impression of nearly one thousand years of worship in the cathedral and nearby churches.
Outstanding among the rare church silver is the stunning royal plate given by King William III in 1697 as a thanksgiving for his victory at the battle of the Boyne. The Treasury also plays host to a rare 14th Century copy of the Magna Carta Hiberniae.
The Cat and the Rat
A mummified cat and rat are the most unusual inhabitants of the crypt, but also the most popular. The cat is reputed to have chased the rat into a pipe of an organ and both became stuck. Mentioned by James Joyce in Finnegans wake, they are known locally as ‘Tom & Jerry’.
World Record Bells
The cathedral’s deployment of 19 bells, ranging in weight from a quarter of a ton to two and a quarter tons, represents a world record of numbers of bells available for full-circle ringing. The oldest bells still in use here date from 1738 while the first notice of bells in Christ Church tower is an entry in the records for the death of John Kyrcham, ‘maker of our bells’, in 1423.
If are lucky, on a guided tour, you may even get the chance to ring them. If you want to know more about them or hear what they sound like, check them out here.
The Cathedral stages many events throughout the year from free lunchtime concerts to lectures on a diverse range of subjects. There are also regular night-time events, including extra special performances such as the ‘Carols by Candlelight’ events at Christmas time which features the Cathedral Choir.
Music has always formed a very important part of cathedral life and the Cathedral Choir traces its origins to 1493 with the founding of the choir school. The cathedral choir has always been highly regarded in Dublin’s musical life and took part in the first performance of Handel’s Messiah in Dublin in 1742. It has the largest repertoire of any cathedral choir in the country, covering more than five centuries and including many works commissioned especially for it. You can check out our upcoming events here.
Take a Self-Guided Tour or a Fully-Guided Tour
You can buy tickets to either a self-guided or a fully guided tour here. The wonderful fully-guided tour includes a steep 86-step climb to the Belfry – so not suited to visitors with walking difficulties. Children must be 12 years or older to access the belfry.