Saint Patrick was buried on the hill in Dunum, a site sacred to the Celts who had buried their ancestors here for thousands of years before his arrival in Ireland. The Grave is located at Down Cathedral beside the Saint Patrick Centre and can be accessed through the Centre Gardens.
A massive grave stone was placed on the Grave in the early 1900s to protect it from pilgrims and from those who emigrated from Ireland and who wanted to take a 'handful of the old sod' from Patrick's final resting place.
A monastic community grew up around the Saint's Grave and in 1124 St Malachy became Bishop of Down. He set about repairing and enlarging the Cathedral. In 1177, John de Courcy (Norman conqueror of Ulster) brought in Benedictine monks and expelled Augustinian monks settled there by St Malachy. By 1220 this building was in ruins and was further damaged by an earthquake in 1245. The Cathedral was burned by Edward Bruce in 1315 and subsequently rebuilt and destroyed several times. In 1538 the monastery was suppressed and then destroyed in 1539 by Lord Leonard Grey, the Lord Deputy of Ireland, who stabled horses there. The destruction of the Cathedral was one of the charges for which Grey was executed in 1541. For two centuries after that it lay in ruins. In 1778 John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, visited and described it as a noble ruin. A Round Tower close to the Cathedral was taken down in 1790. Magnificent stain glass windows, box pews and beautiful organ case enhances Down Cathedral. Souvenir shop and toilet facilities.