On the top of the hill as you enter the heart of the city stands a structure so iconic and recognisable to the people of Dublin that many pass by without even a glance. I often wonder do Parisians pass by the Notre Dame without gazing up or do Romans ignore the Colosseum on their daily commute? The building I’m referring to is of course Christ Church Cathedral. Built in 1030, rebuilt again in the 12th and 13th Century and restored in 1870s after a roof collapse it stands as tall and imposing today as it ever did.
As there is so much to learn and see in Christ Church I opted for the guided tour. My guide Adriana was brilliant, knowledgeable and so so friendly. Having visited cathedrals such as Sagrada Familia in Barcelona and The Duomo in Florence it made Christ Church Cathedral feel a bit smaller and not as impressive but on reflection I think it adds to the embodiment of Dublin character to the cathedral and actually compliments it’s surroundings.
Christ Church is home to weird and wacky items such as Strongbows (but not actually his) tomb, Laurence O’Toole’s heart, which was stolen six years ago but recovered in April, and the cat and the rat who were found mummified inside an organ pipe! See, I told you! Weird, wacky but also strangely wonderful, just like people from Dublin!
The highlight of the guided tour for me was getting up on the walkway in and among the roof and spires of the cathedral and then being brought to the belfry through winding, steep steps. The cherry on top though was being allowed to fulfill a childhood dream of mine to become like my Disney hero, no, not a princess stuck in a tower, but Quasimodo the bell ringer of Notre Dame! Of the nineteen bells in the belfry (highest number of bells available for ringing in the world) there are three that you’re (a visitor) are allowed to ring. And ring them I did!
The tour ends with the crypt. Here you’ll find the stocks dating from the 1670s, costumes from the series The Tudors and of course, the infamous cat and the rat. The story goes that while doing repairs on the organ pipes (as they sounded out of tune) a cat and rat were found mummified mid-chase. Their remains hang in the Crypt and were made immortal by James Joyce in Finnegan’s Wake when he stated that someone was “as stuck as that cat to that mouse in that tube of that Christchurch organ.”