By Juliana Adelman
I was lucky enough to accompany some of the winners of our competition on the prize tour of the tower and roof of St Patrick’s Cathedral. The tour was given by the cathedral’s two new (and excellent) education officers, Andrew and Laura. This post is illustrated with photos taken by Ciarán McCabe, one of the winners and a pretty darn good photographer too. Although the views from the roof were stunning, I think my favourite view was the one in this first picture. The first stop as you climb the tower is a little ledge in front of the stained glass window that faces onto Patrick Street. From there you really get a sense of the magnificence of the cathedral and of the height of the vaulted ceiling. We then climbed further and visited the ringing room. The ringing room had the strange feeling of a place where someone had put down their cup of tea and walked out fifty years ago, never to return. In fact, the bells in St Patricks are still rung by people and not machines and the room is very much in use. [If you are interested in bell ringing I have to recommend The Nine Tailors by Dorothy L. Sayers, a mystery novel that centres around a small cathedral town and its bell ringing.]
The ropes you can see hanging from the ceiling are indeed the ropes to pull the bells. Andrew informed us that they did have a kind of automated system to sound certain tunes which was operated by a series of rollers with studs on them that roll through a very elaborate looking piece of machinery, alternately pulling bell ropes. The machine is not currently in working order. We also visited the clock tower where we could see the inside workings of the clock which is purely mechanical. The current clock was installed during the late nineteenth century restoration, but the original clock was first public clock in Dublin (if I understood correctly). See below for Ciaran’s picture. The final stop was the roof, which allowed a view in all four directions. The thing that struck me most was the differing levels of development you could see: facing south there are almost no new apartment blocks or housing estates just a sea of low level red bricks. You get a great view out to sea. The tour is only available on special occasions and for small groups, so pay attention to the Heritage Week schedule next year if you want to give it a go. There is a lot of stooping and climbing involved which added to the experience! In the meantime, if anyone hasn’t visited the cathedral recently it is well worth an hour of your time. I had forgotten how beautiful it was. Although there are of course very interesting early monuments and carvings, one thing that I took away from my walk around was the scale of the Irish involvement in the wars of empire during the second half of the nineteenth century. I counted three separate monuments to the Boer War, and others for Burma, Indochina and Afghanistan. I’m sure I missed several. We’ll be running another competition soon so keep checking back! Thanks again to St Patrick’s Cathedral and particularly to Andrew and Laura for the fantastic tour.
Tags: St Patrick's Cathedral