With over 200 monuments dotted around its walls, the Cathedral has many interesting stories to tell. The monuments in the cathedral range from large architectural monuments, commemorative brasses and marble statues, to marble plaques on the walls and stained glass windows.
There are many interesting people commemorated in Saint Patrick’s – writers, soldiers, churchmen, lawyers – people from all walks of life, famous in their day but who are now largely forgotten.
The oldest monument in the building, a stone effigy in the North Choir Aisle is that of Fulk de Saundford, Archbishop of Dublin from 1256-71, the first archbishop to be buried in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. The next oldest is the stone tomb slab of Michael Tregury, who was Archbishop of Dublin from 1449-71. His memorial has had a somewhat chequered history. It was moved around repeatedly, until it was restored by Dean Swift and eventually ended up in the Lady Chapel in 1902. The 16th century saw more memorials erected. The five Archbishops of Dublin between 1555 and 1678 have their coats of arms painted on wooden boards hanging on the West wall. (There were actually 6 in this time but for some reason Adam Loftus was left out.)
Several significant monuments were added to the cathedral during the sixteenth century. The brasses in the South Choir Aisle are amongst the finest memorials in the Cathedral. They commemorate two Deans of the Cathedral: Robert Sutton, Dean 1527-28, and Geoffrey Fyche, Dean 1530–37. The other two are memorials to two of the most powerful figures in Ireland in the 16th century, Sir Edward Fitton (1527-79) and Sir Henry Wallop (1540–99). Both were members of the Council in Ireland, and Wallop was a Lord Justice, in which capacity he condemned Bishop O’Hurley of Cashel to death.
The great Boyle Monument was erected in 1632 and was created by Edward Tingham. Tingham was also responsible for the monument dedicated to Archbishop Thomas Jones, Dean of Saint Patrick’s from 1581-1605. He was Lord Chancellor from 1605-15 and in that time brought in many laws against Roman Catholics. The monument was erected by his son, Viscount Ranelagh who is also depicted on the monument.
The great memorial to Archbishop Narcissus Marsh (1638–1713) was designed by Grinling Gibbons and was in the churchyard before being brought into the Cathedral by Dean Swift in 1728. Marsh, Archbishop of Dublin 1694–1702 and archbishop of Armagh 1702–13, is of course more famous for his founding of Marsh’s Library in 1701-03.
The Duke of Schomberg, killed at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, has a large stone monument erected over his grave in the North Choir Aisle. This stone, erected by the dean and chapter after their pleas for a memorial had been repeatedly ignored by the Duke’s family, contains some wonderful invective by Dean Jonathan Swift.
The 18th and 19th centuries saw many memorials erected, including the statues of the Marquis of Buckingham (1753–1813), Lord Lieutenant of Ireland and first Grand Master and (effectively) founder of the Knights of St Patrick; the Rt Hon George Ogle (1724–1814) MP, noted for his part in the suppression of the 1798 Rising in Wexford; Dean Henry Dawson who died at the early age of 48; and James Whiteside, Lord Chief Justice of Ireland 1866–76, whose brother–in–law Sir Joseph Napier, Lord Chancellor of Ireland 1858–59 has a memorial in the south aisle.
Amongst soldiers with memorials in the Cathedral are two particularly worth mentioning; Major–General William Mussenden (1836–1910) and Lt General Rodolph de Salis (1811–80) who both took part in and survived the Charge of the Light Brigade in 1854. Many of the memorial brasses are to Irish regiments in the British army, though some individual soldiers are commemorated. Field Marshal Viscount Wolsely, Major–General Sir Hugh MacCalmont and Lieut General Sir Henry Havelock-Allen VC are three such.
The great historian William Lecky (1838–1903) has a bust in the South aisle, as does another historian, Caesar Litton Falkiner, whose career was tragically cut short by his death in a climbing accident in France in in 1908 aged 45.
The great Dean, Jonathan Swift, whose presence is all over the Cathedral is joined by other great writers, Samuel Lover and Charles Wolfe, author of “The Burial of Sir John Moore”, and in the graveyard is buried Denis Johnston (1901-84), author of “The Old Lady says ‘No’” and other early Gate Theatre plays which made that theatre and its founders Micheal Macliammoir and Hilton Edwards famous.
Another writer with a memorial in the Cathedral is Dr Douglas Hyde, who became first President of Ireland in 1938. Nearby is a bust of another president, Erskine Childers who tragically died after only a year in office. Amongst the most recent memorials is a stone plaque to Sir Charles Villiers Stanford (1852–1924) who received his early musical training in Saint Patrick’s.
In 2014 the Cathedral added its first new major monument in decades to the North Transept of the Cathedral, this is the Tree of Remembrance where visitors can leave messages to loved ones affected by conflict.
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