Chapel of St Patrick and the Saints of Ireland
The floor is very fine and quite distinct
from the paving in the other parts of the Cathedral.
The Chapel, which awaits mosaic decoration,
contains a number of different marbles mostly from Ireland.
St Patrick (387 - 461) brought the Christian faith to Ireland, and is venerated as their patron saint.
In the chapel, which awaits completion, green is the dominant colour, with much of the marble originating in Ireland. Celtic designs are inlaid on the floor and at the foot of the altar. The image of the shamrock (used by St Patrick to explain the Trinity) can be seen throughout the chapel: on the rear wall, in the marble screen separating the chapel from the gallery, behind the altar and on the decoration of the wooden furniture.
Above the altar is a bronze gilt statue of St Patrick, in the style of an ancient Celtic carving. The statue was designed by Arthur Pollen and placed in the Chapel in 1961.
Nearby is a mosaic of St Patrick, erected in 1999. The saint is shown holding his shepherd’s crook with his right hand and the shamrock leaf in his left. St Patrick appears old - tradition has it that he lived to a ripe old age.
The snakes which curl around the altar and in the mosaics around the chapel recall the legend of St Patrick driving the snakes out of Ireland.
Around the chapel walls are the badges of the Irish Regiments which fought in World War I. In a casket by the altar are inscribed the names of 50,000 Irish soldiers who died at that time. In 2001 the President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, prayed in the chapel and laid a wreath to the dead commemorated here - a visit also made by President Mary Robinson in 1996.
Outside the chapel, a mosaic commemorates St Oliver Plunkett, Archbishop of Armagh. St Oliver was the last martyr in England to die for the Catholic Faith, and was executed at Tyburn in 1681.
Lord, you sent Saint Patrick
to preach your glory to the people of Ireland.
By the help of his prayers,
may all Christians proclaim your love
to the whole world.