The Bottom Line
- Imaginative retelling of the story of Saint Patrick using life-size exhibits and multi-media.
- Exhibition stays very close to the known facts about Saint Patrick's life.
- Film presentation at the end of exhibition is truly breath-taking.
- Cathedral and Saint Patrick's (reputed) grave are a few minutes walk away.
- Needs time and preferably quiet to fully enjoy - avoid school groups if at all possible.
- Modern exhibition complex near the cathedral of Downpatrick.
- Presentation of the life of Saint Patrick focuses on the facts related by himself and uses multimedia to a great advantage.
- Stunning film presentation is highlight of the exhibition.
Guide Review - Saint Patrick Centre, Downpatrick (County Down)
Let us start with the end - the grand finale of the tour through Downpatrick's Saint Patrick Centre is a film presentation in a purpose-built theater. Shown on a curved screen it is "Imax light". And by using footage shot from a low-flying helicopter it will take your breath away. Even the most bored and/or riotous schoolchildren will be awed.
Which brings us neatly to the one quibble I had with the Centre - it is best enjoyed in a slow, quiet way. Which simply becomes impossible if a few dozen pre-teens are poured into the exhibition. Try to go off-season to avoid tourist crowds and go for a coffee first if you notice school groups queuing up.
But this apart you are bound to enjoy the visit. The first strength is the reliance on Patrick's own testimony, the biographical sketches he provides in his Confessio. Thus you will find miraculously appearing pigs, but not see snakes slithering off the island.
Another strength of the exhibition is the design involving bold glass walls, life-size figurines, videos and voice recordings - multimedia at its best. Again it has to be stressed that you will need time to fully enjoy the presentation. The story is told in an unhurried way and in detail, never boring but maybe a bit long-winded for the MTV-generation.
A sizeable and good restaurant as well as a well-stocked gift shop round off the center - and the reputed grave of Patrick himself is next to the cathedral, just some minutes (and a few dozen steps) away. Make a point to visit both.