St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral

North of the Liffey

Dublin’s most important Catholic church is not quite the showcase you’d expect. It’s in the wrong place for starters. The large neoclassical building, built between 1816 and 1825, was intended to stand where the GPO is, but Protestant objections resulted in its location on a cramped street that was then at the heart of Monto, the red-light district.

In fact, it’s so cramped for space around here that you’d hardly notice the church’s six Doric columns, which were modelled on the Temple of Theseus in Athens, much less be able to admire them. The interior is fairly functional, and its few highlights include a carved altar by Peter Turnerelli and the high relief representation of the Ascension by John Smyth. The best time to visit is 11am on Sunday when the Latin Mass is sung by the Palestrina Choir, with whom Ireland’s most celebrated tenor, John McCormack, began his career in 1904. If you log on to the website during Mass times you'll hear a live stream of the service.