St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh

St Patrick’s Cathedral in Armagh is a building that has witnessed 1,500 years of turbulent history

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Standing proud at the top of a steep hill, the future of St Patrick’s Cathedral now seems secure after a violent past. With the promise of a peaceful future, more people are able to come and see this beautiful building.

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The story of the site begins in 445, when Saint Patrick erected a church on a hill granted to him by a local chieftain. Of the original church, little survives. From 832, the church suffered at the hands of Danish invaders, and a lightning strike in 995 caused a fire that left it without a roof for 130 years.

However, the church remained a focal site of prayer and religious observance, sufficient in importance that Brian Boru, the High King of Ireland, was buried by the north wall. A new church was begun on the site in 1261, and underwent many phases of development and rebuilding throughout the succeeding centuries. The church was badly damaged in the wars between Elizabeth I and the O’Neills of Ulster, and most recently, a stained glass window was damaged when a nearby bomb exploded in 1957.

In the south transept is the Regimental Chapel of the Irish Fusiliers containing a wooden cross, originally used to mark a grave on the Somme in 1916. By the main altar are two chairs dating to the 17th century. One belonged to Archbishop Margetson and is dated to 1644. The second, the Bramhall Chair, was built in 1660 and is still used during the ecclesiastical ceremonies.

Don’t miss: the stone carving of the Tandragee Man in the south aisle, thought to be a depiction of an Irish Warrior.

Scott Reeves

Information

St Patrick’s Cathedral
Abbey Street, Armagh BT61 7DY

028 3752 3142

www.stpatricks-cathedral.org

Open 1 Apr–31 Oct daily 9am–5pm; 1 Nov–31 Mar daily 9am–4pm.

Adults £3, concs £3, children free

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Armagh tourist information: 028 37521800