St Patrick’s Cathedral was originally built in the 1200’s, over the site of an ancient well that St Patrick supposedly used. A visit requires timed tickets purchased in advance, and you can buy a combo ticket that includes Marsh’s Library, located next to the cathedral.
The tickets include the optional free guided tour. We arrived right when it started so we opted to join the tour. We learned way more in the hour (HOUR!) long tour than I ever needed, or honestly wanted, to know. Unless you are very interested in Irish religious history, I would skip the tour. It was so much information that I forgot almost everything I learned. The only thing I remember is that they used to bury bodies in the walls, because a small river runs under the cathedral, making the ground too soft for burials. During construction, hundreds of skeletons fell out of the walls! Jonathan Swift is buried there (in the ground) but his plaque was away for restoration. There’s also a replica of his skull, which was used by Oscar Wilde’s father to study his eyes!
After spending too much time in the cathedral, we headed next door to Marsh’s Library. It was first opened in 1707, the first public library in Ireland, and is still full of books from the 15th to 18th centuries.
The first section of the library, the First Gallery, has 10,000 books, still displayed where they were placed three centuries ago.
The middle section is the Old Reading Room. Famous authors such as Bram Stoker and James Joyce actually sat and read in this room!
The Second Gallery contains more books, plus lockable cages! People were locked in these cages while reading the books to prevent theft.
Marsh’s Library is a must-do for any bibliophile visiting Dublin.
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