After two days in Dublin, we packed up and loaded into the car for a drive to Kerry, but on the way, we took a little longer route to stop at Rock of Cashel. Rock of Cashel (Carraig Phádraig) has also been called St. Patrick’s Rock and Cashel of the Kings. Sitting high on a bed of limestone, Rock of Cashel is a Medieval castle located on the edge of the town of Cashel in County Tipperary.
According to legend, Rock of Cashel is where Aenghus the King of Munster by St. Patrick in the 5th century. It was also the seat of the High Kings of Munster before the invasion of the Normans in 1101. What is present at the site now was built in the 12th and 13th century and includes the round tower (dating from 1100), Cormac’s Chapel (built 1127-1134), the cathedral (1235-1270). A graveyard surrounds the site where people are still buried to this day.
We had cold, foggy, rainy weather during our visit to Cashel, but it didn’t stop us. Rather, we made a detour into the wool store at the bottom of the hill for gloves and hats before we took the steep walk up. Admission is very reasonable, especially considering they have regular guided tours around the grounds. We didn’t follow one of the guided tours, but we did listen in to two of the tour guides as they talked to their groups. They had a lot of great details. For example, where most churches are built east to west in orientation of the gothic cross, Cashel is set the opposite. It’s said it brings bad luck.
The cathedral itself is still sizeable, even in ruins. The clergy buried inside at the altar were moved at some point and have great carvings on the gravestones. The guides even show the small holes where lepers were once allowed to listen to the service.
Renovations were currently underway inside Cormac’s Chapel, so part of the grounds were blocked off. Cormac’s chapel is alongside the cathedral and almost seems much newer by the difference in the stone from the rest of the structure, however, it’s just as old.
If you’re out and about in Ireland, it’s definitely a must see!
Next up… Ring of Kerry, Killarney National Park, Gap of Dunloe