St Patrick's Cathedral
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St Patrick's Cathedral information
Ireland's largest church is St Patrick's Cathedral, built between 1191 and 1270 on the site of an earlier church that had stood here since the 5th century. It was here that St Patrick himself reputedly baptised the local Celtic chieftains, making this bit of ground some fairly sacred turf: the well in question is in the adjacent St Patrick's Park , which was once a slum but is now a lovely spot to sit and take a load off.
Like Christ Church Cathedral, the building has suffered a rather dramatic history of storm and fire damage and has been altered several times (most questionably in 1864 when the flying buttresses were added, thanks to the neo-Gothic craze that swept the nation). Oliver Cromwell, during his 1649 visit to Ireland, converted St Patrick's to a stable for his army's horses, an indignity to which he also subjected numerous other Irish churches. Jonathan Swift, author of Gulliver's Travels, was the dean of the cathedral from 1713 to 1745, but after his tenure the cathedral was very neglected until its restoration in the 1860s. Also like Christ Church, St Patrick's is a Church of Ireland cathedral – which means that overwhelmingly Catholic Dublin has two Anglican cathedrals!
Entering the cathedral from the southwestern porch you come almost immediately, on your right, to the graves of Swift and his long-time companion Esther Johnson , aka Stella. On the wall nearby are Swift's own (self-praising) Latin epitaphs to the two of them, and a bust of Swift.
The huge, dusty Boyle Monument to the left was erected in 1632 by Richard Boyle, Earl of Cork, and is decorated with numerous painted figures of members of his family. The figure in the centre on the bottom level is the earl's five-year-old son Robert Boyle (1627–91), who grew up to become a noted scientist. His contributions to physics include Boyle's Law, which relates to the pressure and volume of gases.