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St Patrick's Cathedral, Armagh

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by Tom Fieldhouse (subscribe)
I am a freelance writer, living in Bath with my wife and son. I love my city, and love to live here. I write about Bath a lot, and sometimes about travels in Ireland and France.
Published August 7th 2018
Armagh Cathedral- full of art and light
Approaching the front of the cathedral

St Patrick's sits atop a hill in the city of Armagh and it is a breathtaking building. Built in phases between 1840 to 1904, this grey-stone building is colossal. Go inside though and all manner of colours and celebration await you.

Columns and arches

The Cathedral is built in the European Cruciform (cross) tradition, with a long rectangular nave and several smaller chapels and prayer spaces around the edges. Every one of these smaller areas is full of beautiful and sacred art and sculpture, such as this ornate silver and pewter metalwork on one of the altars. I found it very reminiscent of the Book of Kells.

One of many beautiful works of art.

For such an imposing stone building, the interior is filled with light. This is due to the huge and stunning stained glass windows throughout, which are all very intricate and full of vibrant colours. The windows depict both biblical and more contemporary events.

Stained Glass
One of the biblical scenes, in a many-paned window.

The very walls of St Patrick's are adorned with art and colour. In most parts of the arches and roof space, tiny mosaic tiles create portraits of saints and religious figures. Despite it being a grey cloudy day when we visited, these glittered and gleamed, and drew my eyes to the walls and even the most shadowy of areas.

A portrait of St Aidan

Although the Cathedral is a Nineteenth Century creation, there is clearly a lot of respect and veneration for Medieval building styles and methods. Along the arches of the nave, there are many, many gargoyles, and the front of the cathedral facade has several life-size statues.

A Gurning Gargoyle
A crawling, glaring work of art

Regardless of whether or not you are a religious person, this is a wonderfully peaceful and calm place to visit. I spent around 20 minutes exploring St Patrick's, but could easily have spent over an hour there. It is a very accessible place, with ample parking to the rear of the building, opposite Armagh Grammar school. Entrance is free, but all donations are greatly appreciated.

Stained glass windows at the front of the Cathedral
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Why? Stunning Cathedral, full of wonder
When: Open almost every day. Please consult website for details and times
Phone: 028 3752 2813
Where: Armagh, Northern Ireland
Cost: Free entry, but donations are gratefully received
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