If few of the public structures of Dublin possess “the beauty of age,” many of its churches may be classed with the “ancient of days.” Chief among them all is the Cathedral of St. Patrick; interesting, not alone from its antiquity, but from its association with the several leading events, and remarkable people, by which and by whom Ireland has been made “famous.” It is situated in a very old part of Dublin, in the midst of low streets and alleys, the houses being close to the small open yard by which the venerable structure is encompassed. Its condition, too, is very wretched; and altho various suggestions have been made, from time to time, for its repair and renovation, it continues in a state by no means creditable either to the church or the city. It was built A.D. 1190, by John Comyn, Archbishop of Dublin, by whom it was dedicated to the patron saint of Ireland; but it is said, the site on which it stands was formerly occupied by a church erected by the saint himselfA.D. 448. St. Patrick’s was collegiate in its first institution, and erected into a cathedral about the year 1225, by Henry de Loundres, successor to Archbishop Comyn, “united with the cathedral of the Holy Trinity, Christ’s Church, Dublin, into one spouse, saving unto the latter the prerogative of honor.” The question of precedence between the sees of Dublin and Armagh was agitated for centuries with the greatest violence, and both pleaded authority in support of their pretensions; it was at length determined, in 1552, that each should be entitled to primatial dignity, and erect his crozier in the diocese of the other: that the archbishop of Dublin should be titled the “Primate of Ireland;” while the archbishop of Armagh should be styled, with more precision, “Primate of all Ireland”a distinction which continues to the present day.
Above two centuries before this arrangement, however, as the diocese of Dublin contained two cathedralsSt. Patrick’s and Christ Churchan agreement was made between the chapters of both, that each church should be called Cathedral and Metropolitan, but that Christ Church should have precedence, as being the elder church, and that the archbishops should be buried alternately in the two cathedrals.
The sweeping censure of Sir Richard Colt Hoare, that “in point of good architecture it has little to notice or commend,” is not to be questioned; ruinsand, in its present state, St. Patrick’s approaches very near to be classed among themof far greater beauty abound in Ireland. It is to its associations with the past that the cathedral is mainlv indebted for its interest. The choral music of St. Patrick’s is said to be “almost unrivalled for its combined powers of voice, organ, and scientific skill.”