St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin is full of treasures and surprises: that ancient Celtic Cross once marked the site of the 12th century holy well of St Patrick. That imposing 18th century bust is of the great satirist, Jonathan Swift, the Cathedral’s most famous Dean. And that Victorian stained glass window depicting the biblical ‘Rebecca at the well’ with the motto: ‘I was hungry and you gave me drink’? To Dubliners’ amusement, it was donated by Arthur Guinness, of the brewing family.
Ireland’s churches and abbeys tell the story of this island’s history. In Tipperary, the Holy Cross Abbey has faced the river Suir for almost a thousand years. A great place of medieval pilgrimage because it contained a relic of the True Cross. It survived the Reformation, only to fall into ruins in the Cromwellian period. Named a national monument in 1880, it was finally restored as a place of Catholic worship in 1969.
Ireland’s myriad of churches and monasteries welcome visitors. Many, like St Patrick’s and the Holy Cross, remain places of worship where you can still attend services. Others, like Boyle Abbey in Roscommon, are national monuments where visitors flock for architecture and history.