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Christ Church Cathedral


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The mummified cat and mouse at Christ Church Cathedral

Translated by Lottie Davies — one year ago

Original text by Paola Villegas

Christ Church, also known as the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, is one of the oldest and most important cathedrals in Ireland. Despite having found a manuscript about it that dates back to the year 1030, it really isn't almost 1000 years old like you would have thought. Originally, the cathedral was built with wood because it was a Viking church, but it was entirely rebuilt during the eighteenth century, so we could really say that it's approximately two centuries old. Lots of money has been invested into saving this church, which is actually really well-conserved due to all the repair and restoration works that have been carried out. Become one of the 200, 000 tourists that visit Christ Church Cathedral year after year!

The mummified cat and mouse at Christ Church Cathedral

(View of Christ Church from outside. )

This church is brimming with history: in fact, it's located within, what's considered to be, the medieval part of Dublin. This country has gone through important religious changes, therefore this church was consequently affected. Originally, it was a Catholic church, but it later became an Anglican one.

Catholics vs. Anglicans in Ireland

Oh, what a surprise! Christ Church is not a Catholic church, but rather belongs to the Church of Ireland, which, at the same time, belongs to the Anglican Communion. But where did this all arise from? Well, the reason behind all of this brings up a very interesting history that dates back to several centuries ago - one that must be known to understand Ireland's culture in general.

It turns out that the King of England, Henry VIII, wanted to divorce his wife, Catherine of Aragon, for her inability to bear the male child he so desperately wanted to have as his successor in line to the throne. The Queen's age and her unsuccessful pregnancies consequently led the King to, first, fall in love with Mary Boleyn, and later her sister, Anne Boleyn; so much so that he wanted to make her his queen. At that time, it was more or less the year 1533 and England belonged to the Catholic Church, so Henry VIII sent a request to Rome to annul his marriage with Catherine of Aragon so that he could marry Anne Boleyn and make her the legitimate Queen of England. To his surprise, the Pope did not grant him permission to divorce his wife, so the King decided to leave the Catholic Church and create the Anglican Church, which literally means "Church of England".

The mummified cat and mouse at Christ Church Cathedral

(The altar at Christ Church. )

You must remember that Ireland was a part of the United Kingdom until the twentieth century. Northern Ireland is still part of the United Kingdom, so it still belongs to the Anglican Church, whereas the Republic of Ireland belongs to the Roman Church, therefore making it a Catholic country. However, some Anglican churches do still exist, like Christ Church, for example. In fact, the Catholic faith is practised by more than 90% of the Irish population.

How much does entry to the cathedral cost? Are there tours?

Entry costs 7€ for adults, which is approximately $8. 13. However, I really recommend that you buy the discounted combination ticket that will give you access to both Dublinia and Christ Church Cathedral, which has a cost of 13. 25€ (roughly around $15. 29). By doing this, you will save yourself around 1. 25€, which, admittedly, isn't a lot of money, but every little helps!

Now, if you are going to spend a lot of time visiting the museums in Dublin and you want to save yourself some time and money, whilst avoiding large queues, I would highly recommend that you buy the Dublin Pass. I ended up getting myself one and it meant that I didn't have to pay anything extra, nor queue to do so, at Dublinia and Christ Church. You can buy tickets on Christ Church's website and have them sent by post to your house, and they will be valid for use for one year.

I will leave a link to the post that I wrote about Dublinia, so that you can weigh up whether you want to buy the combination ticket. I will also leave the blog post where I talk about how you can save lots of time and money with the Dublin Pass linked below.

But how can you visit the cathedral without having to pay? There is one way of doing so, but it means going when Communion services are being held. This only happens when you want to see the inside of the cathedral without having to pay: you will have to attend mass and you will not be able to walk around aimlessly, as the reason for which you are visiting would soon become quite obvious. You will also have to pay close attention to what times mass is held at.

Guided tour

The mummified cat and mouse at Christ Church Cathedral

(Check out the detailing on the candelabra and the design of the architecture. It's so impressive how you can see the people's faces. )

Once inside, the first thing we did was go to the counter to grab one of the thousands of leaflets that you will be able to find with some basic information and history, as well as a map of the building. Don't worry, they have these leaflets in more than 15 languages, so I am sure that you won't have any problem in finding at least one that you can understand. If you want an audio guide, you can rent one for an additional 5€ at the entrance to the cathedral. At certain times of the day, you will also be able to request guided tours for just 4€ extra per person. I personally highly recommend this tour: it lasts for one hour and ends in the belfry (the upper part of the cathedral), where you will be able to ring the bells of Christ Church!

(Read about my experience at Dublinia here. )

(Learn more about the Dublin Pass here. )

Let's start the tour!

The mummified cat and mouse at Christ Church Cathedral

(The famous tomb that I was talking to you about. )

Personally, I wanted to save money for souvenirs, so I grabbed a leaflet in Spanish (and another in English) to be able to tour around the cathedral with my mother, cousin and best friend without having to pay any additional costs.

One of the first things that you will see will be the church's nave, where you can see the enormous and beautiful stained-glass windows. Due to the fact that the cathedral was rebuilt during the Victorian Era, part of the nave's architectural style still has Victorian pastiches.

If you pay close attention, you will be able to find Strongbow's tomb, which is arguably one of the most important things in the church. This man arrived in Ireland and spearheaded the Anglo Norman involvement in the country's history.

My favourite attraction: the crypt

After admiring the architecture, the candles and the altar for a short while, we decided to go down to the crypt. You feel a bit colder when you descend thanks to the little natural light and stone walls. This is one of the largest crypts in both the United Kingdom and Ireland.

The mummified cat and mouse at Christ Church Cathedral

(The Treasury, as they typically call it. )

The first things that you will see are the costumes that they used in the television series, The Tudors. It has been said that several episodes have been filmed across Ireland and within the church itself. The part where the nave is situated has been used for both weddings and christenings, whereas the crypt has been used for funeral services and to simulate the bottom of the Tower of London.

The mummified cat and mouse at Christ Church Cathedral

(The original costumes from the television series, The Tudors. )

You will also be able to find many statues and tabernacles with candles and antiques used in the cathedral in the past. There are also some extremely old history books.

Tom & Jerry with a tragic ending

All of these things are clearly interesting, but nowhere near as much as "The Cat and the Mouse", which may be the most insignificant and least important thing in terms of history, but it's definitely the most entertaining. I personally like to refer to them as Tom and Jerry in honour of the children's cartoon, where the cat, Tom, spent his life trying to catch the mouse, Jerry. In this case, the mouse got into the tube of an organ and the cat tried to trap it inside, but it was, in fact, the cat that got trapped in the process. Neither of the two could get out and both ended up getting trapped in the 1860s, staying there until they were mummified.

The mummified cat and mouse at Christ Church Cathedral

(The mummified cat and mouse - at least they were preserved perfectly. )

There is a passage by the famous Irish writer, James Joyce, where he talks about famous people: "... as stuck as that cat to that mouse in that tube of that Christchurch organ".

If you get really close to it, you will be able to see the expression of fear on its face: the mouse feared that he wouldn't be able to escape and would be trapped, while the cat would seem to know that it has been trapped forever.

Without a shadow of a doubt, you must go down to the church's crypt because it wasn't open to the general public in the past, having only just done so recently.

Take home a nice Connemara marble souvenir

The mummified cat and mouse at Christ Church Cathedral

(The items on offer at the gift shop. )

In the crypt, you will be able to find a gift shop with a really wide variety of products, especially jewellery with Celtic decoration or shamrocks; you can find items like rings, necklaces and earrings. I think a really nice gift idea would be to buy jewellery decorated with the Connemara marble. It could be said that this is the national Irish stone because it's extracted from the quarries in County Galway, and its colour is a pale green with white marks. My mother bought me a Claddagh ring necklace, with the heart made of Connemara marble; I could honestly say that it's the best gift that I've received up to now.

The mummified cat and mouse at Christ Church Cathedral

(Some examples of the jewellery that you will be able to find in the gift shop. )

There are lots of other things to choose from that are not necessarily jewellery: religious items, tablecloths, keyrings, dolls, and magnets, amongst other things. If you are Catholic, don't hesitate in taking home one of the beautiful crosses that they sell or some embroidery with a prayer written on it - they are something special.

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