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The Cathedral Tower

May 26, 2016  Posted in: Cathedral History

Rising tall above the surrounding buildings, the cathedral tower has had a tumultuous history and has had many incarnations.The original spire of the Cathedral was blown down in a storm in 1316. The following year the Cathedral was set on fire during the Bruce Wars and many precious objects were looted in the confusion.

Following a more serious fire in the nave in 1362 repairs were commissioned by Thomas Minot, Archbishop of Dublin. Minot also built a 147-foot tower at the North-West angle of the Cathedral, employing 60 men in its construction. It is made of Irish limestone, with walls ten feet thick.

The Tower is still known as Minot’s Tower today, although Minot’s original Tower collapsed in c.1394, taking part of the North Nave Aisle with it. Therefore, a second rebuilding was required at the end of the fourteenth century. The four western bays in the North Nave Aisle, which, for an unknown reason, are higher and wider than the rest, were also built around this time.

The first floor of Minot’s Tower may have originally served as a library. On the next floor is the Ringing Chamber. The Cathedral Tower now houses a peel of bells donated by Edward Cecil Guinness in 1897. The bells hang in the fourth floor of the tower, two floors above the Ringing Chamber.

One of the first public clocks in Dublin had been installed in the third floor of Minot’s tower by 1509. This raised the Cathedral to the same status of public building as Dublin Castle. The time is shown on two copper dials, eight feet in diameter, on the West and North-facing sides of the tower which overlooks the neighbouring park. The granite spire, 101 feet high, was designed by George Semple and added to the top of the tower in 1749.

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