Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin

J. Stirling Coyne & N. P. Willis
c. 1841
Volume I, Chapter VI-5 | Start of chapter

Christ Church Cathedral, though not so extensive as that of St. Patrick, is undoubtedly of greater antiquity; the site, say historians, was given by Sitrig, a Danish prince, to Donat, a bishop of Dublin, who about the year 1038 erected upon it a church in honour of the Blessed Trinity.[32]

This edifice was afterwards enlarged by Earl Strongbow, whose supposed tomb near the southern wall of the nave attracts the attention of every visitor. Upon an oblong block of stone is rudely sculptured the figure of a mail-clad warrior, with crossed legs and folded hands, bearing on his left arm a shield with armorial bearings. Inserted in the wall over the figure is an inscription, which states that the monument had been broken by the fall of the roof of the church, in 1562, and had been "set up" again in 1570, by Sir Henry Sydney, then lord-deputy of Ireland. Some doubts have been entertained as to the propriety of attributing the effigy of the knight on the monument to Strongbow, as the arms emblazoned on the shield are not those which belonged to that chieftain. This may reasonably raise a doubt as to the identity of the monument; but from the testimony of Giraldus Cambrensis, a contemporary historian, there can be no doubt that his mortal remains have their resting-place within these venerable walls. By the side of the figure ascribed to Earl Strongbow, is a half-length statue, which was reputed to be that of his son. He was a youth of seventeen, who, as tradition records, deserted his father in a battle with the Danes, and fled to Dublin in the utmost consternation, declaring that his father and all his forces had perished. When convinced of his mistake, he appeared before the earl to congratulate him upon his victory; but the incensed warrior, after sharply upbraiding his degenerate offspring for his cowardice, caused him to be put to death, the executioner severing him in the middle with a sword. This story, though related by Stanihurst, has probably no other foundation than the fiction of some romancer, who invented it for a people delighting in the marvellous: the effigy in question appears to be that of a female, constructed, as was frequently the case, in half-length proportions, without any reference to the hand of the executioner. It is now generally said to represent the Lady Eva, wife of Earl Strongbow.


[32] There was attached to the church a monastic establishment, which existed until the dissolution of these religious communities by Henry VIII., when the priory was changed into a dean and chapter, and the ancient name of Church of the Blessed Trinity was altered to that of Christ Church.