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Saint Patrick’s Cathedral loses out on tourist tithes

Chloe Seymour spoke with Dean William Morton about how the cathedral has been coping with the lack of visitors, remaining liturgical throughout the pandemic and the possibility of it becoming a vaccination centre.

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 restrictions a year ago, St Patrick’s Cathedral and its members have struggled like many other institutions across the country. St Patrick’s is the national cathedral for the Church of Ireland and pre-Covid served as a place of worship, and a tourism site, for a multitude of visitors, both foreign and national.

“In the beginning of 2019, the cathedral would have seen around 600,000 tourists. Since then numbers have dwindled,” its Dean, Dr. William Morton, told The Liberty. “In September of last year we wouldn’t have reached the triple digits in a day: now we are completely closed.”

There has been virtually no income through tourism and the cathedral has been unable to retain all of its staff following this drop in revenue. 

September of last year we wouldn’t have reached the triple digits in a day: now we are completely closed.

Dr. WILLIAM mORTON, dean of st. Patrick’s cathedral.

in August 2019, Morton said, the Church of Ireland began work on the cathedral’s roof in order to prevent further decay and damage to the interior of the building. The cost of this upgrade was €9.3 million, and revenue from tourism and events was expected to be one way to finance the job.  

However the cathedral has had to rely on savings, donations from donors and a €1 million grant from the Department of Heritage to continue the work. The cathedral currently continues to raise funds towards the refurbishment of the roof, which is almost complete. 

Despite restrictions and lockdown, the cathedral has succeeded at remaining liturgical. Morton explained that the cathedral has made great use of its website whilst hosting daily Eucharist and 16 Choral services per week in addition to Sunday services at 11:15 am and 3:15pm via livestream.  

They’ve also been recording singing remotely and have been combining the recordings with archived material. The building is neighbored by the oldest Choral School in Ireland, so the institution has a very long history of choral worship. In addition to this, their organist David Leigh provides organ recitals each week, which are also available online. 

The Dean highlighted the government’s significant role in keeping the cathedral alive and thriving throughout the past year. The Government’s Wage Subsidy Scheme has allowed them to retain much of their staff following their drop in revenue, and further heritage funding arrived too.

“The cathedral is a very important aspect of the Dublin economy, so we appreciate the help that has been provided by the government and donors who have given fantastic amounts of donations to us. We are always hoping for more support or recognition from the government of the cathedral’s role in supporting tourism in Dublin.” 

“We are always hoping for more support or recognition from the government of the cathedrals role in supporting the tourism in Dublin.” 

Dean of the institution, Dr. William Morton.

The Dean remains hopeful for the future of the cathedral and its members, “We are offering the cathedral as a vaccination centre for the locality. It’s a fantastic opportunity for us to give back to the government and the community around us that have given so much help and support, particularly since lockdown restrictions began.” 

The Dean also said that there’s a donations section available on their website or you can post donations to Dr. William Morton, The Deanery, Kevin’s Street Upper, Dublin, D08. 

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