Rock of Cashel – the most visited Heritage site in Ireland

The Rock of Cashel is an historic site located in the province of Munster in Ireland, located at Cashel, County Tipperary.  It had been the traditional seat of the kings of Munster for a few hundred years before the invasion of the Normans.  Very little of the early structures survived, and so most of the buildings that are on the site today are from the 12th and 13th centuries.  Supposedly, this is the place where the King of Munster was converted by St. Patrick in the 5th century AD.  The buildings on the Rock of Cashel are complex and picturesque.

Rock of Cashel

Round Tower is both the earliest and tallest of the Cashel buildings.  It is from c. 1100.  The entrance of this building is 12 feet from the ground.  There is a shallow foundation and the tower was built under the dry stone method.  Cormac’s Chapel was the chapel of King Cormac III of Munster.  It began in 1127 and was consecrated in 1134.  It is not simple, but sophisticated.

There are twin towers on both sides of the junction of the nave and chancel that are suggestive of a Germanic influence.  The interior and exterior arcading, carved tympanum, barrel vaulted rood, and amazing north doorway make this building an architectural masterpiece.  It additionally is the home to one of the best preserved Irish frescos from this period in time.

Rock of Cashel Ireland

The Cathedral was built between the years of 1235 and 1270.  It has a central tower and terminates westward with a massive residential castle.  The restoration of the hall was taken on by the Office of Public Works in 1975.  Now visitors can enter this site.  During the Irish Confederate Wars in 1647, Cashel was sacked by English Parliamentarian troops under their leader Murrough O’Brien.  The Irish Confederate troops that were there were killed, and so was the Roman Catholic clergy.  Many religious artifacts were also stolen or destroyed.

It is also important to know that the entire plateau that is on top of the rock is walled in.  The grounds include a giant graveyard, and within that graveyard are many high crosses.  Scully’s Cross is one of the biggest and most famous of the crosses, and it was constructed in 1867 for the purpose of remembering the Scully family who were destroyed in 1976 due to lighting that struck a metal rod across the cross.

Rock of Cashel - Cormacs Chapel
Rock of Cashel – Cormacs Chapel

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