The Rock of Cashel is a historical and iconic landmark located in County Tipperary, it is aslo referred to as Cashel of the Kings, as the hill was originally the residence of the Kings of Munster, or St Patrick’s Rock. It is a limestone outcrop with a splendid collection of Medieval ecclesiastical structures and ruins that include a 12th century tower and a Gothic cathedral, that are enclosed by a wall. There are many myths and stories associated with this area, with its origins going back to the 4th or 5th century, with some famous people of Irish legend connected with the area including, St Patrick and Brian Boru.
Access for visitors is through the restored Hall of Vicars, they were erected in the 15th century and were the residence of the vicars choral, they were generally laymen and were required to assist in chanting the cathedral services. This impressive Hall has been restored and is home to a small museum containing artefacts that were excavated from the site, as well as the original Cross of St. Patrick. The oldest and tallest of the structures here, is the well preserved round tower, it dates from the 12th century and stands at twenty eight metres. It was constructed using the dry stone method. Construction of Cormacs Chapel commenced in 1127, with the chapel being consecrated in 1134. It has a complex and decorative structure unlike many Romanesque churches which, tended to be quite simple in design. There are many delightful characteristics here including, its interior and exterior arcading, a ribbed barrel-vaulted roof, carved tympanum over both doorways. The chapel is home to the oldest and one of the best preserved frescoes from this era in the country. The Cathedral was constructed between 1235 and 1270, it is different in design, in that it is aisle-less and has a cruciform layout, with a central tower that leads westwards to a enormous residential castle. In the grounds amongst the buildings is a substantial graveyard that has a number of high crosses.
There is an audio visual presentation that lasts about fifteen minutes and provides an insight into the history of the area. Professional and friendly tour guides as well as interesting exhibits and artefacts, further detail the long and fascinating history and the importance associated with the Rock of Cashel. It is not difficult to imagine what living here would have been like through the information and stories told by the guides, they make a visit totally worthwhile.
There are fantastic views from this elevated position of the surrounding Tipperary countryside, so make sure to have a camera.
The site is open to the public daily throughout the year.