We use cookies to improve your experience, some are essential for the operation of this site.

St Patrick, Downpatrick

(54°19′39″N, 5°43′21″W)
J 482 445
pre-1973 traditional (Ulster) Down
now Down
  • Rachel Moss
13 Aug 1998

Please use this link to cite this page - https://www.crsbi.ac.uk/view-item?i=14422.

Find out how to cite the CRSBI website here.

Feature Sets

Fragments associated with the original monastic site in Downpatrick, now reset within the late 18th - 19thc. cathedral.


A church on this site was reputedly founded by St Patrick. After the Anglo-Norman invasion it was claimed that the saint was buried here. Abbots at Down are recorded from the 8thc.. Bishops are recorded in 1043 and 1086. At the synod of Rathbreasil, Down was listed as a diocesan see of Armagh. St Malachy became bishop of a territory which included the dioceses of Down and Connor. He separated these dioceses and became Bishop of Down in 1137. He also held the office of Papal Legate from 1140-48. In 1177 John de Courcey captured Down and renamed it DownPatrick. He built the cathedral and dedicated it to St Patrick. He reconstructed the ancient monastery and brought Benedictine monks from Chester to establish a Benedictine House there. In 1220 the Prior and monks petitioned King John to grant them a dwelling house in England to house the relics of SS Patrick, Brigid and Columba because their Irish house had been so frequently sacked and burned. In 1315-18, Edward, brother of Richard the Bruce proclaimed himself king of Ireland at Down, where he burned the cathedral. Sometime prior to 1422 the sees of Down and Connor were united. In 1538 the cathedral was destroyed by the English and remained in ruin until 1790 when it was reconstructed for protestant worship.


Loose Sculpture


Crosses of the type described here are unusual in Ireland. Their diminutive size suggests that they may have functioned as altar crosses. A parallel may be found at Killaloe, where the shaft of a small sandstone cross with a full length, apparently secular, figure carving is mounted on the wall of St Flannan’s Oratory.


Archaeological Survey of Co. Down, Belfast, 1966.