The Rock of Cashel in Ireland
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 Â© 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.
* 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
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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Admission Fees: (Euros)
Adult - 5.30
Senior Citizen - 3.70
Student - 2.10
Family - 11.50
Information from: www.cashel.ie > Tourism & History
Books on Ireland
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
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 ChoralWhat 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
Celtic Cross Jewelry
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
Books on Irish history
Celtic Cross Art Piece
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?
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."
~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.