One of the most interesting places to visit, the "rock" as it is known in Ireland, can transform you back some 1500 years, just by walking through the doors. The word Cashel is an anglicized version of the Irish word Caiseal. The translations means 'fortress' which is exactly what it was used for.
Located just outside of Cashel on a large mound of limestone. The "rock" has a long history of kings, saints, war and peace.
St Patrick, visited in 450, and baptised King Aengus and his brothers, and Brian Boru was crowned King of Munster at Cashel.
Once the seat of Munster kings from about 370 until 1101, when King Murtagh O'Brien granted it to the Church. On its grant the church was dedicated to "God, St Patrick and St Ailbhe.
Among the various buildings located on and withtin the site are:
The Cathedral The first cathedral was founded in 1169, but nothing of it now remains. In 1495 Gerald, Earl of Kildare, burned the cathedral because as he explained to Henry VII, he thought the archbishop was inside! This 13th century Gothic structure overshadows the other ruins. Soaring above the center of the cathedral is a huge, square tower with a turret on one corner. Scattered throughout, are panels from the 16th century alter tombs and coats of arms from the Butlrs. The Cathedral is a cruciform building with a central tower and at its west end a massive residential castle three storeys high. In the south wall of the choir are the piscina and sedilia recesses and beside them the inscribed wall-tomb of Archbishop Myler MacGrath.
Cormac's Chapel , built between 1122-1138 and erected by the King Bishop who reigned at the time. The chapel is a wonderful display of workmanship. A small stoned roofed chapel, which houses a stone sarcophgus said to be that of King Cormac. Inlayed on the sarcophgus are snakes in a figure "8" design representing eternity, the coffin contained the Cormac Crosier now in the National Museum in Dublin. The stone head carvings are of the builders who carved the building. Cormac's Chapel is unique in Ireland because it has two towers rather like transepts at the junction of the nave and small chancel, and a barrel vault with transverse arches. In the south wall the doorway there is a carved stone tympanum (depicting a huge beast being attacked by a centar).
Hall of the Vicars Choral To enter the Rock you must pass through the 15 century hall of vicars. Downstairs their are exhibits of rare silverware, St. Patrick's Cross, (a 12th century crutched cross with a crucifixion scene and animals.
The Round Tower Located at the corner of the cathedral, and standing 92 feet high. The tower dates from between the 11th or 12th century.
BRU BORU - the palace of Boru ( Brian Boru was King of all Ireland ) - is a national heritage centre at the foot of the Rock of Cashel. The center is designed around a village green and is home to the study and celebration of native Irish music, song, dance, storytelling, theatre, genealogy and Celtic studies. Website
Hore Abbey is about one kilometer north at the base of the rock.
The Rock is a must see for anyone going to Ireland, besides the structures listed above, there are high crosses, a cemetary, and wonderful views of the surrounding countryside. The town of Cashel is charming it has many BBs, restaurnats, shops, and other local attrations to see. If your traveling make sure you put this one on you "TO DO" list.
Virtual tour of the Rock:Of Cashel