Friday, March 18, 2016

Visiting St. Patrick's Cathedral

Yesterday at Bonaventure Cemetery

Yesterday was St. Patrick’s Day and it’s a big thing in Savannah.  While I stayed away from the parade as there was other things to do, a morning downpour thanks to a thunderstorm turned the streets of my island into rivers of green (or yellow-green from pollen).  In the afternoon, I was at an funeral service in Bonaventure Cemetery, which is beautiful this time of the year. Thinking about St. Patrick’s, I jotted down this memory last night about visiting the cathedral of his name in Dublin, Ireland.


Inside St. Patrick's
In the summer of 2011, after traveling overland from Singapore to Europe during a sabbatical, I returned to the United States on a Holland America ship that made a number of stops along the way.  One of the stops was Dublin, Ireland.  It was a Sunday morning and the ship docked during breakfast, allowing for a long layover (18 hours).  Being Sunday, as is my usual custom, I wanted to find a place to worship.  In Dublin, St. Patrick's Cathedral was the place.  After all, Jonathan Swift, author of Gulliver's Travels and A Modest Proposal (which has probably ruined the appetites of more high school and college students than any other tract) was Dean of the cathedral back in the early part of the 18th Century.  Although I'm not one who worries much about the canonization of saints, if I was, I would support Swift as the patron saint of satirists and all smart-asses.  And if you need a miracle to prove that he’s worthy to be "beautified," it could be him not being defrocked for inappropriate relationships with his friend Stella.  Of course, no one has ever proved the two had such relationships.  Some believed the two had been secretly married even though there was no proof of such a union.  They certainly spent a lot of time together, travelling together, and are buried together, side-by-side near the front of the sanctuary. 

St. Patrick's is a cathedral associated with the Church of Ireland which is within the Anglican Communion.  It is odd that there are two such cathedrals within Dublin, both with long histories.  St. Patrick's was built between 1220 and 1260, but on a site of an older church and supposedly the place where Patrick himself first baptized Irish converts around 450.    Christ Church Cathedral was built a century earlier than the "new St. Patrick" (but this wasn't the first "St Patrick's on that site and it had former site was already declared the site of the cathedral).  Ironically, both churches are a part of the Church of Ireland, which is the minority.  Most of the population being Roman Catholic.  I didn't know any of this when I visited except that St. Patrick's was an Anglican Church.

After breakfast on the ship, they ran shuttles into downtown Dublin, dropping us off at Trinity College.  From there, tour buses were lined up for our fare.  I took one that allowed me to get on and off, so I could see the city while stopping for church at St. Patrick’s.  The church was beautiful from the outside, but was not yet open, so I found a place for coffee and caught up on my journal and read some as I waited for the doors to open.  I was surprised to learn there was a fee for touring the church, but if you attended worship, you didn't have to buy a ticket and would then be allowed to look around afterwards.  So I put my contribution in the plate instead of investing in a ticket. 

Although the outside is beautiful, the inside of the church is magnificent.  I took a seat (there were plenty around as only a hundred or so attended the service in a sanctuary that seated 100s).  My eyes feasted on the tall stone columns, the artwork, the incredible stain glass windows.  Looking around, I realized that probably half the congregation were tourist (and many were there to pay homage to Mr. Swift, as afterwards we all congregated around his tomb).  The choir was incredible, their voices filling the cathedral and echoing off the tile floors, stone walls and rising up in the nave.  The pastor, an English chap named Rev. I. P. Poulton, preached on "What will a man profit if he gains the world and loses his soul."  He proceeded to tell us about his granddaddy's farm in Central England.  It was a good sermon that challenged our commercialist culture, but I wonder how the Irish felt being dragged back across the channel into England...

When the service was over, I walked around the nave and looked at where Swift was buried before heading out to tour around Dublin.  Lunch was in an Irish pub.  I was in need of a haircut (I hadn’t had one since Bangkok).  Afterwards, I toured some more, then headed back to the ship in time for dinner.  The ship didn't sail until 2 AM, but I decided I was not up for a night of partying and even if I was, would have worried about having a little too much to drink and missing the ship.  The next stop was the Faroe Islands, which would have been difficult and cost a small fortune to reach if I had to catch up with the ship. 


I was sound asleep when the mooring lines were tossed and the ship sailed.  I woke up the next morning and before going out to walk around the deck, checked our location.  We were still in sight of land, as we passed through the North Channel between Ireland and the Mull of Kintyre in Scotland.  The wind was blowing around 30 knots and from the northwest.  The waters were gray capped with white foam, under clouds that hid the sun.  I felt alive, but wished I had had more time to spend in Ireland.  

43 comments:

  1. I've never been to Ireland but I've been hankering to go there some day.

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    1. I want to put around the countryside there on their train system and maybe go hiking with Vince

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  2. I have always wanted to go to Savannah for St. Patrick's Day. I hear it's a wild celebration!

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    1. I suppose my hometown still doesn't have much of an Irish presence... Come down next year. Hopefully by then I can walk better and partake in the festivities.

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  3. Wow, that sounds like something I would love to see one day. And, no worries, I avoid st. Patrick's parades also. Lol

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    1. The old part of Dublin is a wonderful place to wander as are many cities

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  4. That's so neat you got to go to a service in that cathedral! Sounds like the attendance at my church on Sunday. :)

    My pastor wants to go on sabbatical this summer - I am chairman of personnel and will ask for approval for that at Session meeting on Sunday.

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    1. What does you pastor plan to do on his/her sabbitical. It was a time of different experiences along with some good reading and writing.

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  5. What a great stop. Cathedrals are always impressive to me.

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    1. It is amazing how they built such structures back in the 11 century.

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  6. What a great experience to have been able to worship in such a beautiful church. Your photos are lovely.

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  7. Two cathedrals, two cathedral incomes. The dean is the Ordinary. But Dublin isn't the senior church - neither St P's nor Christ's Church- St Kevin's in Glendalough is by about 600 years. And that place, I suspect, would gladded your Presbyterian soul.

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    1. Why would Glendalough gladden my soul? One day I do hope to get back to Ireland, along with more time in Scotland and a visit to Wales (which I have not visited).

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    3. Try this instead https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kevin_of_Glendalough. The landscape is utterly lovely.

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  8. I've never made it to Ireland but hope to one of these days.

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  9. Thank you for taking me back along the trek through Ireland. I love going there and I remember the first time I was at Trinity College and saw the Book of Kells. What a beautiful experience. Well, every one of my experiences in Ireland have been beautiful. Perhaps it's the Riley and the Murray in me blood. Lovely post.

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    1. I was envious of your travels this past year in Ireland!

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  10. Going to Ireland is my dream. I would make St. Patrick's Cathedral one of my stops. :)

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  11. Wow - what a grand visit to Ireland. And this was the extent of my visit too. I enjoyed it, however brief. I didn't know there's a St Patrick's cathedral. It's awe-inspiring. They don't make churches like they used to. Have a great weekend, Sage.

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    1. You are right, such churches that took decades to build and today, we'd lose interest!

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  12. I felt alive, but wished I had had more time to spend in Ireland.

    While I haven't traveled to the extent you have, but compared to the people I work around I've done a lot. When I talk about my trips someone always asks the question as to why I feel the need to vacation to places out of the country. They literally can't seem to fathom way anyone would not constantly vacation at Myrtle Beach.

    I've tried to relate to them the sense of freedom and adventure I feel when I'm lucky enough to travel to a new country. It's like taking to a rock.

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  13. I was just talking to someone at work yesterday about Ireland and how I almost went with my family last year. I still want to go. Lovely post.

    Greetings from London.

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    1. I hope you go--You could take a train and ferry!

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  14. I've heard Ireland is a beautiful place to visit.

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  15. Always I heard this Catedral is beautiful !!
    I would like travel to Ireland :)

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    1. It is, but so is the architecture in Chili (I'm told)

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  16. I've never visited Dublin or Ireland at all. I did have a layover there and took some photos from the plane and it is indeed green! That must have been quite a vovage you were on in 2011!

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    1. I'm surprised you haven't as you've travel more than any of my readers! Next time, you'll have to get out of the airport.

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  17. Hi Sage,

    I hope the congregation forgave my English references. One can only be the person one is.

    As a member of the chapter, I get to preach in Saint Patrick's twice a year and was there on 13th March. The reading was the anointing of Jesus by Mary and I talked about how the moment might have been experienced through the five senses - no English references ;-)

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    1. I'm sure they forgave you! It is quite an honor to preach there!

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  18. Here's the sermon from that morning of 28th August 2011 - it was my first sermon in the cathedral
    http://forthefainthearted.com/2011/08/25/sermon-for-sunday-28th-august-2011-morning-service/

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    1. Thank you for posting this--I went back and read your sermon and it matched the notes I'd made! It was a pleasure to be there that morning.

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  20. I'd love to go to Ireland one day. I enjoy visiting old churches and cathedrals.

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