Scene across the Liffey

Christ Church Cathedral and the Synod House from the Library. This image appears in the magazine’s article on Ireland’s capital city. Signed lower left “H. W. Brewer.” Source: The Graphic 57-58 (17 August 1878): 172. Click on image to enlarge it.

Sitrc, the founder of the Cathedral, was a Dane, but inasmuch as Ireland became the country of his adoption, as he reigned over Dublin for many years, and for all we know died in it, he may be considered a Dane by birth only. The structures, and they are many, said to be designed by so-called Danes, may all be held to be the work of “settlers,” and not of the Ostmen proper, who too frequently came and went as robbers, and pillaged and destroyed churches and palaces and whole districts, whenever they were permitted to make an entrance into them. The “Danes of Dublin” were, however, a settled colony, who relinquished the life of Vikings, made a city, erected fortifications, and fought in many a bloody war for its protection. It was in 103S that Sitric, with the aid of Donat, Bishop of Dublin, ordered the erection of the Cathedral. The church was over and over again enlarged by the addition of smaller chapels, but in 1120, in the same year that St. Patrick's Cathedral was built by Comyn, Archbishop of Dublin, that prelate so altered and renovated Christ Church that it became in almost every detail a new erection. Early in the present century it was described as a “lumpish cruciform pile with a wide tower rising a little more than high enough over the intersection of the nave and the transept to make the whole mass seem hunchbacked.”

It will be in the recollection of our readers that Mr. Henry Roe, the well-known Irish distiller, has within the past two years restored this splendid ecclesiastical building at a cost of more than 200,000l. He entrusted the work to Mr. G. E. Street, and that architect has made the Cathedral one of the most perfect specimens of Early English architecture in this kingdom. He has as far as possible adhered to the designs of its founder, and has added a new Synod House for the use of the Synod and the united dioceses of Dublin, Glcndalough, and Kildare. Mr. Roe has given a further sum of 20,000l. for the sustentation of the clergy and the choir. The traditions of the fabric are full of interest. A Parliament was held within the walls by Henry VI. in 1450, and it was here that the impostor, Lambert Simnel, was crowned as king in 1487, the crown used on this occasion having been borrowed from a statue of the Virgin in the neighbouring church on Cork Hill. It has for generations been believed that the bodies of Strongbow, Earl of Pembroke, and his wife, Eva, daughter of Dermot, King of Leinster, were interred here. Doubt, however, has recently become somewhat pronounced on this point, and Canon Finlayson, who is about to publish a work on the Cathedral, quotes heraldic authorities in support of his idea that the arms on the tomb are not those of Strongbow but of one of his followers, Fitz-Osbert. The Canon also agrees with the view that the mutilated stone supposed to have represented Eva is in reality Strongbow’s son, who was cut in two by his father as punishment for his cowardice. Leland, in his history of Ireland, remarks that there is an inscription in Gloucester Cathedral, intimating that the body of the Earl of Pembroke was interred in the Cloisters there. It is only fair to Canon Finlayson to add that in his book he quotes the following words from Giraldus Cambrensis, the author of the “Conquest of Ireland:” “The earl was interred in Christ Church, and his funeral obsequies were performed by Archbishop Lawrence O'Toole.” While these lines are going to press I am informed that Mr. Street, in making within the past few weeks some excavations, has unearthed a stone figure undoubtedly of a woman, and no doubt the savants of the British Association will be invited to give their opinion in respect to Mr. Street’s idea, that this figure is that of the long-lost Eva. [174]

Related material

[You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the Internet Archive and the University of Illinois library and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one. —  George P. Landow]


“Dublin Illustrated.” The Graphic (17 August 1878): 169-81. Internet Archive online version of a copy in the University of Illinois Library. Web. 14 August 2018.

Last modified 13 August 2018