Visiting the Rock of Cashel

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Rock of Cashel, County Tipperary, Ireland
The Rock of Cashel as seen from Hore Abbey, 2017

I have yet to see anything more imposing or inspiring than the Rock of Cashel. Breathtaking, spellbinding, awesome… These words don't even do it justice. And the feeling doesn't dissipate- each time I visit the ‘Rock' fills me with awe.

Irish legends tell the the rock that Cashel of the Kings is built upon is a boulder dropped by the devil in an attempt to crush St. Patrick as he brought Christianity to Ireland.  Of course the great castle dates to a few centuries before that time…

It was originally built as a fortress in the 4th or 5th century. In the late 7th century St. Patrick baptized a King of Munster here. Cashel was the seat and symbol of the overkingship of Munster and the inauguration place of its kings. In 1101 the reigning King of Cashel gave “the Rock” to the church. Of course their was much religious turmoil in Ireland for the next 700 years and “the Rock”, being the great symbol that it is, was not peaceful. In 1869 it was given into State Care as a National Monument and underwent great restoration.

Rock of Cashel
Taken walking up to the Rock of Cashel, November 2005

The original St Patrick's Cross sits in the undercroft of the Vicars Choral, out of the elements.

Original St. Patrick's Cross at the Rock of Cashel; Ireland
Original St. Patrick's Cross

Outside you'll find a replica sitting in the approximate original location.

St Patrick's Cross Replica at the Rock of Cashel; Ireland
St Patrick's Cross Replica

If the history of the Rock of Cashel isn't enough to impress the kids, the architecture will.  Cormac's Chapel, possibly the first building in Ireland built in the Romanesque style, still shows traces of fresco on the chancel ceiling while the sarcophagus at the west end of the chapel is true Celtic styling.

Fresco at the Rock of Cashel. Ireland travel tips | Ireland vacation |IrelandFamilyVacations.com
The colorful frescoes at the Rock of Cashel have deteriorated in Ireland's wet weather.
Restored Cormac's Chapel at Rock of Cashel
Restored Cormac's Chapel at the Rock of Cashel. The 12th century building was steam washed making it appear almost new.

The Cathedral, built in the Gothic style, features majestic archways and and extensive array of stone heads on both the interior and exterior of the building.  A tomb niche in the south wall of the nave has beautiful 17th century stucco work.  You may even find the Sheela-na-gig in a corner of the dormitory if you search hard enough.

Round Tower at the Rock of Cashel. Ireland travel tips | Ireland vacation |IrelandFamilyVacations.com
Round Tower at the Rock of Cashel. Even on such a wet day I had to be quick with my snaps and stand downhill to get shots that hid the crowds of tourists.
Interior at Rock of Cashel. Ireland travel tips | Ireland vacation |IrelandFamilyVacations.com
Interior at the Rock of Cashel. A bit of shelter from the elements can be found inside the walls as a few of the newer portions (only a few hundred years old) still retain a roof!
Carvings in the Rock of Cashel. Ireland travel tips | Ireland vacation |IrelandFamilyVacations.com
Intricate carvings in the Rock of Cashel.

The Rock of Cashel is a great stop if you have children because the grounds are very open and easy to wander. Take your time admiring the architecture and the Celtic art- the entire site is walled in so kids won't wander very far.

Hore Abbey taken from the Rock of Cashel, Tipperary. Ireland travel tips | Ireland vacation |IrelandFamilyVacations.com
Hore Abbey is an enchanting ruin to view from the heights of the Rock of Cashel.

“The Rock” certainly overshadows the other great sites in Cashel but try not to overlook Hore Abbey, the town of Cashel itself, which has a lovely historic trail, and nearby Athassel Abbey.

Rock of Cashel Restoration. Ireland travel tips | Ireland vacation |IrelandFamilyVacations.com
Rock of Cashel – Cormac's Chapel Restoration in 2016
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Tips for exploring the Rock of Cashel, County Tipperary, Ireland. Ireland travel tips | Ireland vacation | IrelandFamilyVacations.com
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Consider Ladyswell House, a spectacular B&B within walking distance of the Rock of Cashel.

Tips for Visiting the Rock of Cashel

–The Rock of Cashel is an OPW Heritage Site. Learn about OPW Heritage Cards here.

–A short audio visual presentation covers the history of the time and the area. It doesn't give as much information about the building of the massive castle (though it is a wonderful place to wait during heavy rain!) so I recommend paying a nominal fee for the brochure when you arrive or joining a guided tour if one is available.

–Traveling with littles? There is quite a steep walk up to the main entrance so be sure to bring along your stroller if you don't want to carry anyone up or down the drive.

–There is pay parking at the base of the Rock. If you don't mind a bit of a hike park at the base of the hill on the other side of the site and walk up the final bit of the Tipperary Way.

Dining in Cashel

If you're looking for a place for a meal, or just tea, before or after visiting the Rock of Cashel, we really enjoyed The Bake House on Main Street. (This is also a lovely place to wait for the rain to lessen…)

Our lunch was quite good, but we couldn't resist dessert.

Tea and a treat at the Bake House in Cashel. Ireland travel tips | Ireland vacation |IrelandFamilyVacations.com
I've become rather fond of apple pie in Ireland… served with a side of fresh cream.

Don't let the weather keep you from visiting the Rock of Cashel.

Don't let the rain keep you from visiting the Rock of Cashel. Ireland travel tips | Ireland vacation |IrelandFamilyVacations.com

Even in wet conditions the site is incredible.

7 COMMENTS

  1. […] also discover the descendants of hop plants sown by Richard Guinis.With its own private path to the Rock of Cashel, stroll through the extensive manicured gardens to the 13th-century cathedral and seat of the Kings […]

    […] discover the descendants of hop plants sown by Richard Guinis. With its own private path to the Rock of Cashel, stroll through the extensive manicured gardens to the 13th-century cathedral and seat of the Kings […]

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