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Christ Church Cathedral - Dublin, Ireland
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Master Mariner
N 53° 20.600 W 006° 16.257
29U E 681671 N 5913936
Quick Description: Standing on high ground in the oldest part of Dublin, Christ Church Cathedral is one of the city's finest historic buildings with construction starting in the 1180s. The bell tower houses 19 bells.
Location: Dublin, Ireland
Date Posted: 4/17/2016 5:56:54 AM
Waymark Code: WMQYZV
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member lumbricus
Views: 6

Long Description:

Wikipedia has an article about the bells of Christ Church Cathedral that tells us:

Christ Church Cathedral probably had at least one ringing bell from its foundation. By 1440 there were known to be three great bells in the tower; however on 11 March 1597, an accidental gunpowder explosion on one of the nearby quays damaged the tower and caused the bells to crack. The effects of this blast also damaged the tower nearby of St. Audoen's Church.

In 1670, six new bells were cast for the tower from cannon metal. These were augmented to eight in 1738 and then to twelve in 1878.

The most recent augmentation was in 1999 when an additional seven bells were added to the ring, giving a grand total of 19 bells, a world record for bells rung this way. Although this does not produce a diatonic scale of 19 notes, it does uniquely provide a choice of combinations: three different 12-bell peals (in the keys of B, C# and F#) as well as 14 and 16 bell peals. At the time of the augmentation, this was only the second 16 full circle bell peal in the world – St Martin's Church in Birmingham being the first.

The bell-ringing work is led by the "Ringing Master and Master of the Tower".

The Tourist Information Dublin website tells us:

At the centre of the city of Dublin for almost a thousand years, Christ Church cathedral (or more formally, The Cathedral of the Holy Trinity) has a rich cultural history which can be traced from the Vikings and the Anglo-Normans to the present day.

The earliest manuscript suggests Christ Church cathedral has been in its current location since around 1030. Dúnán, the first bishop of Dublin and Sitriuc, Norse king of Dublin, founded the original Viking church, which is believed to have been subject to the archbishop of Canterbury. By 1152 it was incorporated into the Irish church and within a decade Archbishop Laurence O’Toole (the first Irish-born bishop of Dublin) had been appointed.

Extensive renovations were carried out in Victorian times at a cost of £230,000, equivalent to approximately €26 million in current terms) and while the seriously decayed structure was saved from collapse, it remains difficult, to tell which parts of the interior are genuinely medieval and which parts are Victorian pastiche.

The cathedral famously contains the purported tomb of Strongbow, a medieval Norman-Welsh peer and warlord who came to Ireland at the request of King Diarmuid MacMorrough and whose arrival marked the beginning of English involvement in Ireland.

On one wall alongside the Choir is the famous mummified group of "Cat and Mouse," found trapped behind the organ and preserved by the very dry air of the cathedral.

Christ Church contains the largest cathedral crypt (over 63 long) in Britain & Ireland, which was constructed in 1173.

The crypt contains various monuments and historical features, including:

  • the oldest secular carvings in Ireland, two carved statues that until the late 18th century stood outside the Dublin's medieval city hall (which was demolished in 1806),
  • a tabernacle and set of candlesticks used when the cathedral last operated under the Roman rite, when the Catholic King James II, having fled England in 1690, came to Ireland to fight for his throne and attended High Mass in the temporarily re-catholicised Christ Church,
  • and the stocks, formerly in Christ Church Place, made in 1670 and used for the punishment of offenders before the Court of the Dean's Liberty.

The Christ Church Cathedral website tells us more about the cathedral's history:

The History of Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin

The earliest manuscript dates Christ Church Cathedral to its present location around 1030. Dúnán, the first bishop of Dublin and Sitriuc, Norse king of Dublin, founded the original Viking church, which was probably subject to the archbishop of Canterbury. By 1152 it was incorporated into the Irish church and within a decade the famous archbishop Laurence O’Toole had been appointed. This future patron saint of Dublin began a reform of the cathedral’s constitution along European lines and introduced the canons regular of Saint Augustine forming a cathedral priory, which was to survive until the Reformation following the liturgical use of Sarum (Salisbury) in England.

Laurence O’Toole acted directly in diplomatic efforts between the Dubliners and the Anglo-Normans including Strongbow (Richard de Clare) following the capture of the city in 1170. It was due largely to John Cumin, the first Anglo- Norman archbishop, that the Hiberno-Norse cathedral was replaced with the Romanesque and later Gothic cathedral, parts of which survive today. In 1395 King Richard II sat in state in the cathedral to receive homage from the kings of the four Irish provinces O’Neill of Ulster, McMurrough of Leinster, O’Brien of Munster and O’Connor of Connacht. In 1487 Lambert Simnel, pretender to the English throne in the reign of Henry VII was ‘crowned’ in Christ Church as Edward VI.

In the sixteenth century, reform again came from England when Henry VIII broke from Rome. He dissolved the Augustinian priory of the Holy Trinity and established a reformed foundation of secular canons. On 22 December 1541 Robert Castle (alias Paynswick), the last prior, became the first dean of Christ Church. In 1562, the nave roof vaulting collapsed and Strongbow’s tomb was smashed, the current tomb being a contemporary replacement from Drogheda. The cathedral was in ruins and emergency rebuilding took place immediately. This temporary solution lasted until the 1870s! Since the collapse of the roof, the north nave wall has leaned out by 46cm / 18 inches. Political changes over the years were reflected in the changes of administration of the cathedral and following the virtual collapse of the cathedral system during the Cromwellian period, Christ Church was given a new constitution in 1660 which, as modified by the Church of Ireland’s general synod since 1870, is still the basis of the rule governing the cathedral.

In 1689 King James attended Mass here and for a brief period, the rites of the pre-Reformation faith were restored. One year later, returning from the Battle of the Boyne on 6 July 1690, King William III gave thanks for his victory over King James II and presented a set of gold communion plate to the cathedral. During the 16th and 17th centuries, Christ Church’s crypt was used as a market, a meeting place for business, and at one stage even a pub as a letter of 1633 shows: the vaults from one end of the minster to the other are made into tippling houses for beer, wine and tobacco.

In 1742 the cathedral choir together with the choir of St Patrick’s cathedral sang at the world premiere of Handel’s Messiah in nearby Fishamble Street. The Church Temporalities Act of 1833 brought partial disendowment and impoverished what had been one of the wealthiest ecclesiastical corporations in Ireland. When Charles Lindsay, bishop of Kildare and dean of Christ Church (a position which had been held together since the 17th century) died in 1846, the dean of St Patrick’s cathedral also became the dean of Christ Church. Not until 1884 did Christ Church have its own dean once more.

The cathedral as it exists today is heavily Victorianised due to the extensive restorations and renovations carried out by the architect George Edmund Street (between 1871 and 1878) at the expense of a Dublin whiskey distiller, Henry Roe, who gave £230,000 (£23m today!) to save the cathedral. The disestablishment of the Church of Ireland in 1871 saw further constitutional change and financial disendowment at the cathedral. With members of the laity now responsible for the building’s maintenance it became essential to provide for lay participation in its governance. A cathedral board of laymen (as was the case then) and clergy was formed in addition to the solely clerical chapter.

A two-year restoration of the cathedral roof and stonework was undertaken in 1982. Kenneth Jones of Bray installed a new organ in 1984. Further work since 1997 has included the renewal of the heating and lighting systems and the restoration of the massive 12th century crypt. This last undertaking was to provide the cathedral with a much-need facility for hospitality and to mark the millennium year 2000. It now houses the important Treasures of Christ Church exhibition, together with the superb video of the cathedral history by Louis Marcus. The exhibition features manuscripts and artefacts that give the visitor some impression of nearly one thousand years of worship in the cathedral and nearby churches. Outstanding among the rare church silver is the stunning royal plate given by King William III in 1697 as a thanksgiving for his victory at the battle of the Boyne. Also on display are the conserved tabernacle and the candlesticks used in 1689 under James II when the Latin rites were restored for a three-month period.

To mark the Christian millennium, two principal events took place among many others. In June 2000 Christ Church Cathedral Dublin: A History was launched by An Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, TD and in the same week a five-day residential ecumenical liturgical conference, Ceiliu´radh (Celebration) was organised, in which themes of music, art, architecture and theology were explored within a context of seminars, workshops, lectures and worship.

Address of Tower:
Christ Church Cathedral
Christchurch Place
Dublin, Ireland


Still Operational: yes

Number of bells in tower?: 19

Relevant website?: [Web Link]

Rate tower:

Tours or visits allowed in tower?: Unknown

Visit Instructions:
Please post an original picture of the tower taken while you were there. Please also record how you came to be at this tower and any other interesting information you learned about it while there.
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