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St Patrick's Cathedral
St Patrick's Cathedral
St Patrick's Cathedral
The history of St. Patrick’s Cathedral is as expansive and rich as its vaulted ceiling which resonates with the names of those associated with it.  The Cathedral was originally built around 1225, adjacent to a well believed to have been used by St. Patrick in the 5th century to baptise pagan converts to Christianity.  The Cathedral was brought under the control of the Church of Ireland following the Reformation in England and became the principle place of worship for Irish Protestants in Dublin through the 16th,17th and 18th centuries.  The building eventually fell into disrepair and collapse until it was restored by the Guinness family in the 19th Century.
The most celebrated of all the deans of St. Patrick’s was undoubtedly Jonathan Swift, who has left a lasting legacy to the world in literature and contemporary satire.  The ancient stonework of the Cathedral whispers with a name equally as important to some but largely forgotten to a larger world: that of Loftus.  This is a short testimonial to some of those buried in a family vault at St. Patrick’s which has all but been effaced from memory but remains still in the minds of those who wish to know more.   This brief honorarium does not seek to vilify or vindicate the lives of those interred in the vault, merely to remember them.  Some have much written about them or even by them, others are as obscure and tenuous as our grip on events of lives long past.  Each, however, deserves to be remembered.  In 1688, at the age of 20, Swift in his first public satire (albeit through an intermediary) allegedly mocked one of his former teachers and mentors at Trinity College as ….a mighty doctor of Civil Law, but a Polygamist, toothless but a Polyglot; so full of learning that the characters of every language are clearly inscribed in the lines of his face. It is in vain, therefore, O  reverend doctor, that the envious mutter, saying that now, worn down by old age, you do not understand the eastern tongues - for your countenance is truly the index of your mind. Again and again let him be hailed, our grandiloquent elder, whom the Muse has given the round mouth of speech….”  The object of his derision and grudging admiration was Dr. Dudley Loftus, who was interred seven years later in the Loftus family vault, one year after Swift himself had entered the Church of Ireland.  But as you will see, if you read on, it was not only eccentric characters like Dudley who are part of the fabric of St. Patrick’s but the survival of the Cathedral itself as a place of worship is owed in part to the Loftus family…….