There I was circling the grounds of Saint Patrick’s Park for the second time in the last year.  The grass is a lush green despite this being the middle of January.  I stuck my hand in the fountain to feel the icy cold water.  For someone who enjoys people watching as much as me this is prime territory.  Everyone comes to Saint Patrick’s Park.  The mothers push their strollers.  The groups of school chums pass through on the way to one of the many academies in the neighborhood.  And one cannot forget the tourists and travelers, many of whom are out there doing exactly what I am.  I often wonder what the people watching me think as I pass by in my down-filled jacket and my puffy faux fur hat.  I bet it’s something like, “there goes that guy that I see walking all over Dublin smiling and laughing to himself.  That guy is crazy.”  I hope that’s what they think, anyway.

So back to Saint Patrick’s.  As I mentioned I had been there before.  It was almost a year ago.  It was the first day of my first travelling adventure.  I had not really learned the ropes yet and walking inside a church just to see it seemed somehow blasphemous.  A few months later I arrived in Rome and was cured of my inhibitions.  I realized that as long as you are respectful and quiet most churches are happy to show off their parish pride.

After circling the grounds a few times and snapping a few pics I headed for the main entrance.  The exterior is impressive, with its massive clock tower and sprawling stone transepts, but upon first seeing the interior I was shocked that this was the same building.  The cathedral is packed with statues, memorials, and stained glass that are as bright and intricate as the exterior is stern and unrelenting.  I took my first long glance as the choir finished their fiery crescendo.  Strangely, the choir that was performing was from Carthage Academy in Kenosha, Wisconsin and they had come to Dublin on the same flight as me.

At this point I think that my words might fail me.  I would like, instead, to show you what it is I had the opportunity to see…

The man himself.  In the foreground is the statue of Saint Patrick.

This is one of the many stained glass windows from inside the cathedral.

An inset of the window above.

“The Door of Reconciliation.”  In 1492 the feuding Butler and Fitzgerald families were battling in Dublin.  The Fitzgerald soldiers chased the Butler’s men, led by Black James, into Saint Patrick’s Cathedral.  The head of the Fitzgerald family saw that this bloodshed was becoming too much and must end.  After hours of pleading with the understandably reluctant Butler soldiers to come out of the Cathedral and agree to a truce, Fitzgerald hacked a hole in the door.  As a show of peace he then stuck his arm through the door, giving the Butlers a chance to chop off his arm.  Instead, Black James shook his hand and the feud was put to rest.

The High Altar where Communion is received during the Eucharist.

The rest of the Altar.

The “death mask” of Jonathan Swift, author of such works as Gulliver’s Tales and A Modest Proposal, who served as the Dean of the Cathedral until his death.  Death masks were commonly worn by the deceased in this period.

A cast of Swift’s skull that was used for the pseudo scientific study of phrenology.  Scientists of the time believed you could tell about a person’s character by the shape of their skull.

Under these simple tiles lie the bodies of Swift and his best friend, Stella.  It is said that when Stella died Swift was so distraught that he moved out of his normal rooms so that he would not see her funeral lights from the Cathedral window.

After a day at Saint Patrick’s I followed the River Liffey back to my room.  I passed fighters, lovers, and friends  on the boardwalk.  The fighters were the most entertaining.  I couldn’t help but laugh as they smacked each other in the head with the newspaper in their hand while sipping on the Guinness in their other hand.  That is one of many sites from today that I will not soon forget.  When you travel you must see Dublin and when you are in Dublin you must see Saint Patrick’s.  Well, I am going to kick back for a bit while I try to figure out what is next.  Enjoy.

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