Historic Ireland: a guide to the Rock of Cashel

photo by Mira Pavlakovic

When the historical treasures of a regular small town are unveiled to the world at large, tourism doesn’t stay blind to it for long, and sometimes the very things that made the town special are lost in the process of commercialization. But this is not the case with Cashel, a small Irish town that is home to some of the most stunning historical sites in Ireland. Cashel, in County Tipperary, has managed to preserve it sleepy, authentic small town feel even though it has become a very popular tourist attraction. And the gem of this town is undeniably the Rock of Cashel, a majestic castle that has been the home of kings and queens for centuries. If you’re visiting the Emerald Isle, don’t miss your chance to get a glimpse of the most exciting spot in historic Ireland, so here’s a guide to the Rock of Cashel.

History

photo by Irish Typepad on Flickr

The High Kings of Munster are the stuff of legends nowadays, and although there are few marks of their passing at Cashel, they were the rulers of the region centuries before the Norman Invasion. What’s left of the current castle dates back to the 12th and 13th centuries, but nevertheless, the castle is known as the site where in the 5th century, St Patrick converted King Aenghus of Munster to Christianity. Much of the medieval castle is still standing, and it is considered to have some of the most stunning examples of Celtic art and medieval architecture in Europe.

What to see

The most important feature of the castle is the 28 meter tall round tower which was built in the early 12th century using the dry-stone method typical for all Irish round towers. Another very interesting place in the castle is Cormac’s Chapel, built at the order of King Cormac Mac Carthaigh. The chapel is very sophisticated for its time, and it has some features that are unique in Ireland. Next to the chapel there’s a fetching Gothic cathedral dating back to the 13th century, which has a nicely restored Vicar’s Choral. Other parts of the castle are somewhat recent (15th century), and they look very good for their advanced age.

When to visit

photo by Shadowgate on Flickr

In summer, the Castle is overrun with tourists, so you might have to wait a few hours in line until you are allowed to go in. The tourist flow is somewhat lighter the rest of the year (though not by much), but you might have better chances of taking pictures and admire the scenery undisturbed. Although the guided tour lasts for only 45 minutes, you should allow plenty of time to explore this amazingly complex structure.

Leave a Reply