Christ Church Cathedral was originally a small wooden church built by the Viking King Sitric. It was replaced around 1200 with the beginnings of the stone building we see today. Inside the cathedral is the tomb of Strongbow, the Norman knight who became king of Leinster in 1171
This video is designed as a resource for primary and post-primary students up to Junior Certificate.
Christ Church Cathedral
Christ Church is the second Church of Ireland cathedral in Dublin - the other one is St Patrick’s Cathedral. The building that can be seen today is older than St Patrick’s. It is believed that it started off as a small wooden church built around 1030 by the Viking King Sitric. It was built inside the old city walls; all around it was the old Viking city with packed houses, workshops and narrow lanes.
It was replaced around 1200, with the beginnings of the stone building we see today. Many people added to the cathedral since, but by the 1800s it had fallen into disrepair. As in the case with St Patrick’s, a wealthy Dublin man came to the rescue and donated £230,000 which is the same as 26 million euro to restore it.
The name of this man was Henry Roe and he made his money by distilling whiskey, while St Patrick’s was saved by the Guinnesses, and the money they had made from beer! Henry Roe turned the cathedral into the building Dubliners know today but while the outside was much changed, the inside stayed pretty much as it was in the Middle Ages.
Inside the cathedral one can see steps leading down to a huge underground room running the whole length of the building. This kind of room in a church is called a crypt and it is often used for burials or chapels. It is not quite clear what it was used for in Christ Church but it is reported that in the seventeenth-century it was divided up and rented out as shops and taverns. Tavern is an old word for a pub, and in those days travellers would stop off for a bite to eat or drink.
Many people and stories are connected with Christ Church Cathedral. One of the famous people is Laurence O’Toole, the Archbishop and patron saint of Dublin. He invited Augustinian monks to live beside Christ Church. The remains of some of their houses can still be seen inside the grounds of the cathedral.
Inside the cathedral is the tomb of Strongbow, the Norman knight who came to Ireland with the King of Leinster, Dermot MacMurrough. Strongbow married MacMurrough’s daughter, Aoife and himself became King of Leinster in 1171. He is supposed to have started the rule of the Normans in Ireland. The figure on his tomb shows a knight with a shield dressed for battle. His hands are joined and his legs crossed.
One of the strangest events ever to take place in Christ Church happened in 1487. The English were fighting over who should be their king. In order to win this quarrel, some of them found a ten-year-old boy called Lambert Simnel who looked very much like the princes who were kept in prison by the English king. They gave him fine clothes and jewels and crowned him King of England in Christ Church Cathedral. Many important Irish lords and nobles attended the ceremony. When the lie was discovered Lambert was dismissed and sent to work in the king’s kitchen but his life was spared.