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.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby North of the Liffey attractions

1. Father Theobald Mathew Statue

0.07 MILES

Father Theobald Mathew (1790–1856) was the 'Apostle of Temperance' – a hopeless role in Ireland. Still, Mary Redmond's 1893 statue isn't the only tribute…

2. James Joyce Statue

0.08 MILES

Looking about with a bemused air from the corner of pedestrianised North Earl St is a small statue of James Joyce sculpted by US sculptor Marjorie…

3. Spire

0.09 MILES

The city's most visible landmark soars over O'Connell St and is an impressive bit of architectural engineering that was erected in 2001: from a base only…

5. General Post Office

0.11 MILES

It's not just the country's main post office, or an eye-catching neoclassical building: the General Post Office is at the heart of Ireland's struggle for…

6. GPO Witness History

0.14 MILES

Inside the General Post Office is this wonderful museum that also serves as a fitting tribute to the 1916 Easter Rising and its key role in the creation…

7. Jim Larkin Statue

0.15 MILES

The most dynamic statue along O'Connell St is that of trade-union leader Jim Larkin (1876–1947) by Oisin Kelly, just south of the General Post Office…

8. Rotunda Hospital


Irish public hospitals aren’t usually attractions, but this one – founded in 1748 as the first maternity hospital in the British Isles – makes for an…