This, the largest church in Ireland, dates from the 13th century but was founded on a far older religious site associated with St Patrick and dating from the fifth century. As a memorial to Anglo-Irish life in Ireland, it tells a more interesting tale than Christ Church, and its many plaques and monuments commemorate various celebrated figures of the Anglican Ascendancy, from Richard Boyle (Earl of Cork and 'Father of Chemistry') and John Philpot Curran (who provided the legal defence for rebel leader Wolfe Tone and fathered Sarah Curran, fiancée of the later rebel leader Robert Emmet), to former presidents of Ireland such as Erskine Childers (whose father was executed during the Irish Civil War) and Douglas Hyde (father of the Irish language revival movement).
The monuments also serve as a reminder of the generations of Irishmen who served, fought and lost their lives for the British Empire: not just on the fields of France in the two World Wars (a Roll of Honour here lists the names of the 50,000 Irishmen killed fighting in the British army in World War II), but also in such far-flung places as Sudan, Burma and Afghanistan throughout the 19th century. Most consist of wordy, typically sentimental Victorian eulogies, but some are touchingly compassionate, and seem to reflect the poignant mood cast by the shadow of the tattered regimental colours that still hang from the inside wall.
All that said, St Patrick's remains most famous for its association with the celebrated writer and satirist Jonathan Swift. Most of his best-known works were written while he was dean here from 1713 to 1745. Deeply cynical and yet touched by a sort of social conscience that seems at odds with his time, Swift's savage criticisms of the cronyism and ineptitude that marked England's colonial administration of its largest island neighbour were powerful enough to bring down governments; unfortunately for him, they made him many enemies in the process, and ensured that his own career would remain somewhat stunted. Swift advocated a humane approach to the treatment of the mentally ill, and he left a large sum of money after his death to found St Patrick's Hospital. Swift is buried here alongside his partner, friend and confidante, Stella.