The Rock of Cashel is one of Ireland's most spectacular archaeological sites. The word "cashel" is an anglicized version of the Irish word "caiseal", meaning "stone fort". A spectacular group of medieval buildings set on an outcrop of limestone in the Golden Vale including the 12th century Round Tower, High Cross and Romanesque Chapel, 13th century Gothic cathedral, 15th century Castle and the restored Hall of the Vicars Choral.
The Rock comprises of several buildings, the oldest of which, the Round Tower, dates from the early 12th Century. The outstanding Romanesque chapel, named after King Cormac, dates from the same period, while construction on the largest building on the site, the Cathedral, began in the 13th century. The Rock of Cashel has a rich and important history. Its history starts in the 4th or 5th century when the Eoghanachta clan built a small defensive position on the site. St Patrick visited the small stronghold in 5th century and converted the clan leader King Aengus, who became Ireland's first Christian ruler. Unfortunately the saint accidentally stabbed the king in the foot with his crosier. The king, thinking it was part of the initiation rite, bore the pain. According to the legend during the baptism, the devil hurriedly flew over Ireland and, hindered by the Slieve Bloom Mountains, the flying fiend took an enormous bite out of the stony peaks. After he reached the opposite side of the mountains, the devil spat out his mountainous mouthful and inadvertently formed the Rock of Cashel. The legendary origin of the Rock of Cashel, then, also explains the gap (known as the Devil’s Bite) in the Slieve Bloom Mountains, which can be seen to the north of the rock.
The Cormac's Chapel
The chapel is the best-preserved building of the group, and it can be found south of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Cormac's Chapel was built in 1127 by Cormac Macarthy, king of Desmond and bishop of Cashel. Cormac's Chapel is a small, solid, stone roofed chapel of cruciform shape. Inside the main door to the left is a stone sarcophagus, dating from 1125 - 1150, said to house the body of King Cormac. The chapel's interior contains the oldest and most important Romanesque wall paintings in Ireland. The oldest, dating from about 1134, consist mainly of masonry patterns and can be made out in places on the lower walls. The remaining paintings date from c.1160-70 and are visible on the upper walls and vault.
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. It occupies the site of Donal Mor O'Brien's cathedral built in 1169. The most attractive elements are the transepts (c.1270), with triple lancet windows. On the east side of the transepts are square chapels, two on each side, all with piscinae and three with tomb niches. The north transept contains late medieval tombs and grave slabs found at the site.
The Round Tower
The earliest of the Cashel buildings is the Round Tower next to the Cathedral's north transept. It originally faced the west end of the 12th-century cathedral. Rising 28 m high and dating from shortly after 1100, it is a well-preserved example with six floors.
The recently restored Hall is now a visitor centre with museum and the starting point of guided tours. Other sites around the Rock of Cashel include Hore Abbey, the Hall of the Vicars Choral, and Cashel's cultural center, Brú Ború.
There is a sideways squatting Sheela-na-Gig set high up on entrance building built into wall. The right arm reaches in front of the leg, while the left arm stretches behind. The face is much worn, but apparently there were no ears.
More about Round Towers you will find HERE.
More about Monastic Sites in Ireland you will find HERE.
Mid March to Mid June, daily 9.30-17.30
Mid June to Mid September 9.00-19.00
Mid September to Mid October 9.00-17.30
Mid October to Mid March 9.00-16.30
Last admission: 45 minutes prior to closure
• Adult €5.30
• Senior Citizen €3.70
• Student (valid ID) €2.10
• Family €11.50
• Guided Tours
• Audio Visual
• Car and Coach Park
• Disabled Access
Tel.: +353 (0) 62 61437
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