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Wednesday 19 December 2018

Cathedral's Lady Chapel reopened

Dean of St Patrick's Cathedral Victor Stacey as the Lady Chapel was opened to the public
Dean of St Patrick's Cathedral Victor Stacey as the Lady Chapel was opened to the public

One of the oldest sections of St Patrick's Cathedral has reopened to the public.

Built in the 1270s, the Lady Chapel at the rear of the Dublin landmark has gone through a 700,000 euro conservation project over the last six months.

Dean Victor Stacey said: "Although just complete, we can already see how the restoration of this unique space has rejuvenated interest in the cathedral as a whole. From an aesthetic point of view, it demonstrated how careful restoration can illuminate the architecture and craftsmanship that makes the cathedral one of the most beautiful in this part of Europe."

The Lady Chapel will be part of the tour from now and will also be available for cultural events. The chapel followed the style of churches across northern Europe in the 13th and 14th centuries, being built behind the cathedral's high altar and dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

Its construction was ordered by Archbishop Fulk de Saunford. The chapels either side are dedicated to St Peter on the north side and St Stephen on the south, and the section includes a chair said to have been used by King William of Orange at a service of celebration after his victory at the Battle of the Boyne.

From mid-17th to the early 19th century, the chapel was known as the 'French Chapel' as it was used by Huguenots, the French Protestant refugees who fled to Ireland.

Cathedral administrator Gavan Woods said investing in heritage is a long-term approach that will keep visitors coming.

He said: "We know too well that self-financed restoration projects like this are much fewer because of the times we live in. Historic buildings which are open to the public can rarely maintain their fabric through their visitor income. This is a nervous time for our built heritage, which - without support - could fall into serious decline."

Jimmy Deenihan, Minister for Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht, attended the reopening ceremony. He said: "The reopening of this chapel represents a considerable addition to Dublin's attractiveness to visitors and also represents St Patrick's strong commitment to increasing the offering to visitors from the cathedral."

The Lady Chapel has been used as a private chapel space with the majority of midweek services taking place there.

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