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The Rock of Cashel in Ireland

Updated on October 21, 2013

The Rock of Cashel - Seat of the Kings of Munster

The Rock of Cashel is an historical monastic structure located on a rocky plateau rising 300 feet above the Golden Vale in County Tipperary. This strong fort is one of Ireland's most popular tourist attractions, with over a quarter of a million visitors a year, the Queen visited it on her state tour of Ireland in 2011. Saying that, Ireland does seem to have rather a lot of interesting attractions as anyone who has visited the country would agree. I've spent years visiting and re-visiting lots of wonderful sites, and this one at Cashel is one that I can return to over and over again where I always get a different sense of being.

These well known historical monuments are full of interest. Once inside, I start to ponder over what went on centuries ago in this troubled little island, it all appeared to be fairly brutal as the Vikings had a go at the natives as did Oliver Cromwell's forces centuries later. In fact, so much of Irish history tells a sad tale of hardship and woe, struggle and strife, but they fought through and faced up to it.

I'm lucky enough to be able to visit a number of antiquities, like ancient castles, monuments, towers and settlements, all only a short distance away.

Created on 14 May 2013

All photos © Rob Hemphill

St. Patrick, the Devil and the Rock of Cashel

Legend and myth

In mythology, St. Patrick is associated with the Rock of Cashel. He's said to have banished Satan from his cave, and Satan then took a bite out of the mountain, and broke his teeth in the process. The piece that fell out of his mouth was the Rock of Cashel, landing where it is today, some 25 miles further south. The small mountain where the bite was taken from is called the Devil's Bit and is only a short distance from where I am.

The name is actually derived from the Gaelic name Caiseal, which refers to a circular "stone fort". It's thought that in the 5th century, the conversion of the kings of Munster* by St. Patrick took place at Cashel. The Rock of Cashel for many hundreds of years before the Norman invasion became the seat of the kings of Munster while the buildings seen there today date from the 12th and 13th centuries.

The Rock of Cashel visitor guide

* Munster is one of the four provinces in Ireland, the others being Ulster, Leinster and Connaught.

Approaching the Rock from the Road

What to See

The Rock of Cashel sits on a high promontory with extensive views of much of Country Tipperary. This was a perfect location for a fort allowing for effective defense against an approaching enemy. What can be seen today are the ruins of an ancient church, many tombstones and crosses and a ninety foot high stone round tower, as well as a labyrinth of old buildings.

The round tower is the oldest structure on the Rock built in 1101AD and without mortar. The base has recently been reinforced with mortar to help stabilize it. Towers like this served as watch towers and also shelter from invaders, while many examples can be seen all over the country.

Cormac's chapel is another interesting intact building begun in 1127AD, and built in the Romanesque style. Visitors will find it fairly small and dark with only a few windows. As a few of its builders came from Regensburg in Germany, there is a Germanic influence that can be seen in both towers on either side of the nave.

Read more about Round Towers

Undergoing Restoration - Open to visitors

Rock of Cashel Co Tipperary
Rock of Cashel Co Tipperary

The site is open to visitors, of which around 250,000 visit it each year. Extensive repair work is being carried out, hence all the scaffolding that can be seen on the left side, but this does not affect tourism at all.

Open:

Mid March to Mid June, daily 9.30am - 5.30pm

Mid June to Mid September 9.00am - 7.00pm

Mid September to Mid October 9.00am - 5.30pm

Mid October to Mid March 9.00am - 4.30pm

Last admission: 45 minutes prior to closure

Tel: 062 61437 / Fax: 062 62988 or email: rockofcashel@opw.ie

Admission Fees: (Euros)

Adult - 5.30

Senior Citizen - 3.70

Student - 2.10

Family - 11.50

Information from: www.cashel.ie > Tourism & History

The Weather & Celtic Crosses - What Ireland's known for!

The day we visited the Rock of Cashel the weather was changeable as it mostly is in Ireland. I was wandering around the exterior looking at the tombs, celtic crosses and round tower when the sky darkened, and out of the gloom came this rainbow.

Myths and legends in a holy place, and not just any holy place, but one in leprechaun territory in the Emerald Isle, combined with a double rainbow enabled me to witness something different here. Apart from a dark sky, there was no thunder and lightning or noise of any sort, the place was calm, you could hear a pin drop, and I was in the middle of it.

Religious or not, visiting somewhere like this makes you think about greater beings and other very different lives that have come before us. I find I'm frequently posing questions to myself as I roam around with my camera at the ready.

What has gone on here in the past?

Was it a peaceful place or had it seen violence?

When standing on ground that was inhabited a thousand years ago, it's no wonder you feel a certain presence, there is, and it's all around and underneath, it's everywhere. Oh! if only walls could talk!

Rock of Cashel

Rock of Cashel
Rock of Cashel

Learn a bit more about the Rock of Cashel in this paperback booklet.

The book is fully illustrated and guides you through a history of St.Patrick's Rock.

 

St. Patrick's Cross original

displayed in the undercroft of the Vicar's Choral

Replica of St. Patrick's Cross

standing between the Hall and the Vicar's Choral

What makes this cross unusual is that among Irish high crosses, it doesn't have a ring around the cross head, the other difference is that it has extra supports at each side of the shaft. Only one of these supports has survived.

On one side of the cross is a figure of the crucified Christ clad in a full length robe while on the other is a figure of an abbot or bishop.

Elephant and Castle

Woman with Child

The Queen's Visit to the Rock of Cashel - On 20 May 2011

State Visit to Ireland

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II with His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh came to St. Patrick's Rock in Cashel during their state visit in 2011.

The video below is a record of the visit, produced by the Cashel Chamber of Commerce.

See more of the Visit of Queen Elizabeth II to the Rock of Cashel Tipperary

Queen Elizabeth in Cashel

Celtic Cross Art Piece

Gifts & Decor Antiqued Rustic Celtic Old World Style Wall Cross
Gifts & Decor Antiqued Rustic Celtic Old World Style Wall Cross

This is a solid and beautiful piece of art, and it's very heavy for its size, so make sure if you get one to pay attention to a decent mounting bracket or just use a heavy duty nail. You certainly get your moneys worth!

 

Ever Been to the Rock of Cashel?

Have you been to the Rock of Cashel?

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Carvings

The Rock of Cashel
The Rock of Cashel

Fresco Painting on Ceiling

During this time in Ireland architecture, sculpture and crafts dominated the visual arts, with various exceptions confined to the illumination of manuscripts, like the Book of Kells. Fresco painting is very rare in Ireland, and those murals found in Cormac's Chapel are an important part of Ireland's art history."

~Images from the Book of Kells

~View pages from the Book of Kells, Trinity College, Dublin

The Celtic Cross

They say that Saint Patrick introduced the Celtic Christian cross into Ireland at the time he was busy converting the Irish pagans. However, there are other interpretations of the design; one of these is by placing a cross on top of a circle represented Christ's supremacy over the sun, which was considered to be pagan.

During the 8th century, it became a tradition in Ireland to erect high stone crosses as monuments, and maybe even before then the crosses could have been made out of wood or metalwork. Some well known Celtic Crosses with a head are:

The Cross of Kells

The Ardboe High Cross

The Cross of the Scriptures, Clonmacnoise

The crosses at Monasterboice

The wave of building crosses declined over the centuries, and by around 1200AD the practice had virtually died out.

The Rock of Cashel
The Rock of Cashel

Please Leave Your Thoughts - Thanks for your visit

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    • IanTease profile image

      IanTease 3 years ago

      Lovely lens, beautiful photos

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 4 years ago

      Thank you for publishing this lens about this amazing place. I enjoyed the tour.

    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 4 years ago

      I find rocks fascinating, maybe a bit of inheritance from my mining engineer father. We always had rocks in the home, and though I didn't care much for them as a child, all that changed with adulthood.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      What a good reason to stay home and explore your own back yard! I'd say that 250,000 visitors every year would agree with that and how nice that they remain open to tourists with the reconstruction going on, that must cost in the millions and well worth the expense to preserve The Rock of Cashel for future generations, another wonderful castle of Ireland for sure, may many more hear about it and visit! :)

    • profile image

      RinchenChodron 4 years ago

      Looks like a a great place! Thanks for this info.

    • WebMarketingPro profile image

      WebMarketingPro 4 years ago

      Those are wonderful photos! Loved the rainbow ones especially, and the other ones as well. Thanks for sharing them, and your story of the Rock.

    • allaneaglesham lm profile image

      allaneaglesham lm 4 years ago

      Fantastic pictures!! Thanks for the lens.

    • JenwithMisty profile image

      Jen withFlash 4 years ago

      Looks like a beautiful place!

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      All the green landscape with the beautiful stone work, makes a beautiful scene. And then, you have a rainbow, so nice.

    • LisaDH profile image

      LisaDH 4 years ago

      Looks like a wonderful place to visit, and I love your photos, especially the one with the rainbow through the archway. Well done.

    • profile image

      Echo Phoenix 4 years ago

      Beautiful! I would love to visit one day and as I now have good friends in Ireland as well as it being the homeland of my grandmother Mildred Pearl, how can I resist after viewing this lovely lens :) thank you for sharing this. Namaste`

    • mrdata profile image

      mrdata 4 years ago

      Congrats for your LOTD! Wonderful castle to visit.. Thanks!

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Another beautiful lens on Ireland. You have made your country very interesting to visit.