Down Cathedral

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Down cathedral, August 2009
The reputed burial place of St Patrick.

Down Cathedral, the Cathedral Church of the Holy and Undivided Trinity, is a Church of Ireland cathedral located in the town of Downpatrick in Northern Ireland. It stands on Cathedral Hill overlooking the town. It is one of two cathedrals in the Diocese of Down and Dromore (the other is Dromore Cathedral) in the County of Ulster. The cathedral is centre point in Downpatrick.


It is an ancient ecclesiastical site with a church dedicated to the Holy Trinity, first recorded in the 12th century. In 1124 St Malachy became Bishop of Down, and set about repairing and enlarging the cathedral. In 1177, Sir John de Courcy (Norman conqueror of Ulster) brought in Benedictine monks and expelled the older monastic community. De Courcy, who had enraged the king by his seizure of lands in Ireland beyond what he was granted, was taken prisoner there on Good Friday 1204. According to the account, the unarmed de Courcy managed to take a weapon from one of his attackers and killed 13 men before being overpowered and taken prisoner.[1]


The cathedral incorporates parts of the 13th-century church of the Benedictine Abbey of Down (Black Monks).[2]

The restoration of the ruined 14th-century cathedral of Downpatrick was initiated after an Act of Parliament of 1790 granted £1000 (approximately £142,000 in today's currency) for the purpose.[3][4]

Crosses from the 9th, 10th and 12th centuries are preserved in the cathedral. The building today is mainly the original chancel from the 15th century with a vestibule and tower added. It had a second major restoration from 1985 to 1987, during which time the cathedral was closed.

Down cathedral, August 2009



It houses an 11th-century granite font discovered in use as a watering trough in 1927 and installed in the cathedral in 1931. In the cathedral grounds is the burial place of St Patrick, believed to have died in 461. However, the inscribed stone of Mourne granite allegedly marking the grave was actually put in place in 1900. Outside the east end of the cathedral stands the replica of a weathered High-Cross made of granite. The 10th- or 11th-century original, which formerly stood in the centre of Downpatrick and was moved to the cathedral in 1897, has been on display in Down County Museum since 2015.[5]

Two small stone crosses now built into a wall in Down Cathedral appear to be 12th-century work and are carved with monks holding books.[2]


  1. ^ Berry, MRIA, Major R.G. (January 1906). "The Whites of Dufferin and their Connection". Ulster Journal of Archaeology. Ulster Archaeological Society. XII (1): 122.
  2. ^ a b Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland (1983). Historic Monuments of Northern Ireland. Belfast: HMSO. p. 50.
  3. ^ "The Cathedrals of the Church of Ireland" Day, J.G.F./ Patton, H.E. p45: London, S.P.C.K., 1932
  4. ^ DeBreffny, D; Mott, G (1976). The Churches and Abbeys of Ireland. London: Thames & Hudson. pp. 148–149.
  5. ^ "Downpatrick High Cross Extension Project". Down County Museum.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 54°19′37″N 5°43′21″W / 54.327061°N 5.722547°W / 54.327061; -5.722547