Around 1030, Sitriuc, Viking King of Dublin, returned from a pilgrimage in Rome and provided land in the middle of medieval Dublin, then a densely populated area, for the building of a church. This Cathedral is what later became the world-famous Christ Church Cathedral Dublin or as it is formally known, The Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. Through the years, this church has been rebuilt and renovated several times. However, nothing remains of the original church King Sitriuc established in 1030. It is Dublin’s oldest building and has been a place of pilgrimage for nearly 1,000 years.
The Cathedral is likely to have been modified first by the English around 1074-1084 under one of the bishops. By 1152, it was added to the Irish church and not much later, one of Ireland’s famous church reformers, Archbishop of Dublin, Laurence O’Toole became its archbishop. He laid the foundation stone for the Cathedral’s rebuilding replacing its original structure.
In the early 19th century, the Cathedral fell into disrepair and was declared unfit for use. Several attempts to restore were made over time. One such restoration took place in 1871. Henry Roe, a man who made his fortune through whiskey distillery, contributed 220,000 pounds over seven years, what would today be an equivalent of 26 million Euros to restore it. This restoration is what turned the Cathedral into what it is today. Its interior though, still reflecting some of the rebuilding done as far back as the 1200s.
During the renovation that started in 1871 and over the course of 7 years, the current floor tiles, furnishings, and stained glass were put in according to the Victorian fashion popular at that time. The medieval floors and stained glass are still some of the most stunning features in the Cathedral today. It is still difficult to tell which part of the architecture was done which year due to the many reconstructions the Cathedral has endured.
One of its unique features is its captivating architecture restored in 1878. It consists of a maze of several large stone pillars that bear the weight of the building. The curved pillars have intrigued historians, architects, and visitors for decades.
The buildings that make up the Cathedral are separated by a road. A full integrated stone bridge, spanning the roadway, connects the west end of the Cathedral to the Synod Hall, now known as the Dublina, which houses an exhibition about medieval Dublin.
Other little-known peculiarities about the Cathedral include a mummified cat and rat. Legend has it that the cat chased the rat into the church organ’s pipe and both were stuck there. They are displayed behind glass in its crypt, the largest Cathedral crypt in Ireland.
Several attempts have been made to renovate the Cathedral in 1358, 1562, 1829, 1871, and in recent years. Some of these renovations were extensive and detailed.The Christ Church Cathedral underwent a significant renovation in 1982 and again in the early 2000s and was then opened to the public.
As a historical building, it is protected under architectural buildings of historical importance, and this is under the Record of Protected Structures, in the Dublin City Development Plan, 2016-2022, approved by the Dublin City Council. The conservation ensures that the magnificent Christ Church Cathedral Dublin is conserved and continues to stand for many more centuries to come.