Rock of Cashel

Rock of Cashel

According to local mythology, the Rock of Cashel originated in the Devil's Bit, a mountain 20 miles (30 km) north of Cashel when St. Patrick banished Satan from a cave, resulting in the Rock's landing in Cashel, its also reputed to be the site of the conversion of the King of Munster by St. Patrick in the 5th century.

The Rock of Cashel was the traditional seat of the kings of Munster for several hundred years prior to the Norman invasion. In 1101, the King of Munster, Muirchertach Ua Briain, donated his fortress on the Rock to the Church. The picturesque complex has a character of its own and is one of the most remarkable collections of Celtic art and medieval architecture to be found anywhere in Europe.

Buildings on the Rock

The Round Tower
The oldest and tallest of the buildings is the well preserved round tower (28 metres, or 90 feet), dating from c.1100. Its entrance is 12 feet from the ground. The tower was built using dry stone and no mortar.

Cormac's Chapel with parts of the cathedral on either side.
Cormac's Chapel, the chapel of King Cormac Mac Carthaigh, was begun in 1127 and consecrated in 1134. It is a very sophisticated structure, unlike most Irish Romanesque churches, which are ordinarily simple in plan with isolated decorated features. It contains one of the best preserved Irish frescoes from this time period. The Chapel was constructed primarily of sandstone which has become water logged over the centuries, significantly damaging the interior frescos.

Irish High Cross at the Rock of Cashel
The Cathedral, built between 1235 and 1270, is an aisleless building of cruciform plan, having a central tower and terminating westwards in a massive residential castle.

In 1647, during the Irish Confederate Wars, Cashel was sacked by English Parliamentarian troops under Murrough O'Brien, 1st Earl of Inchiquin. The Irish Confederate troops there were massacred, as were the Roman Catholic clergy, including Theobald Stapleton. Inchiquin's troops looted or destroyed many important religious artefacts.

In 1749 the main cathedral roof was removed by Arthur Price, the Anglican Archbishop of Cashel.Today, what remains of the Rock of Cashel has become a tourist attraction. Queen Elizabeth II visited the Rock of Cashel during her 2011 visit to Ireland.

"The Rock of Cashel is a site like no other I ave seen. It is litterally a very big rock sitting in a flat plain, visible for miles. On the Rock there's a expansive collection of large ruins spanning centuries. It's fascinating and photogenic. There are few services here, but visit Cahir or Kilkenny too and make a day of it." - Martin



  • Addresses
    • Cashel
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