Rising almost 60 meters from the top of an imposing rocky peak, the Rock of Cashel is a collection of absolutely exceptional medieval buildings and vestiges dominating the rest of the city. Major Irish touristic place, the site is said to welcome thousands of visitors each year who come to discover the beauties of the Irish medieval history. On the program, numerous royal and religious edifices, sometimes magnificently preserved, sometimes in ruins are to be visited.
Overlooking the town of Cashel and the surrounding plains of Tipperary County, the origins of the Rock of Cashel date back to the 4th century, when the first fortress was built on this rocky upstream and was named “Castle of King”.
This structure was, as its name suggests it, supposed to become the place of residence of local kings and, later, High Kings of Ireland.
The location was ideal to watch the surroundings and to protect themselves from potential attackers.
In the 5th century, the fortress was occupied by the kings of Munster, until 1101.
The fortress then welcomes inside its walls great kings as the king Aengus (who is baptized there in 450 by Saint Patrick. According to the legend, the saint would also have taken the opportunity to introduce – thanks to a clover – the concept of Holly Trinity to King Aengus.).
From the 5th century to the end of the 9th century, the fortress multiplies the construction sites to erect new religious or residency buildings. But it’s in 1011, that king Murtagh O’Brien decides to give the fortress up to the Church…
The 28-meter-high Rock of Cashel Tower would have been built around 1100. The edifice was then used to watch over the outskirts of the fortress and to stock numerous manuscripts as well as religious relics of great worth.
The tower is quite impressive at first sight and remarkably well preserved. Note that it’s possible to climb its stairs to reach its summit and have a breathtaking view on the Rock of Cashel!
A really rare visit which is usually impossible in all the other round towers of Ireland!
It’s an imposing chapel built in 1127 and consecrated in 1134. Of a fairly complex Romanesque style and influenced by the German one, it is characterized by two towers symmetrically situated on each side of the building, as well as a barrel volt beautifully carved. The chapel contains a tomb, which is probably Cormac’s.
Note that this chapel holds a fabulous fresco, really well preserved despite the time and the cold. Of all the buildings located on the Rock of Cashel, it’s by far one of the most appreciated by visitors and historians! The delicacy of the sculptures and the beauty of the edifice make it one of the most beautiful Romanesque chapels of Ireland!
Way more important than the other buildings mentioned above, the cathedral of Saint Patrick would have been built in 1235 and is organized on a classic cruciform layout, and made up of a square tower, as well as a second tower dating from the 15th century (named the “Archbishop’s Residence”), which served as the archbishop’s place of residence. The latter is adjoined to the cathedral but doesn’t make one with the main edifice.
In the cathedral’s entrance, is also situated the Hall of the Vichars Choral. This building is located at the entrance of the fortress and would date from 1420. It would be the place of rehearsal of Saint Patrick’s cathedral’s choral. Inside, note the presence of a museum, presenting the history of Rock of Cashel, as well as numerous Saint Patrick’s crosses, from the 12th century.