Postcard from The Rock of Cashel

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Rock of Cashel, Old Tower, 1101
Rock of Cashel, Old Tower, 1101

ORT_Logo   Breadtag Sagas ©: Author Tony,  24 January 2015

The Rock of Cashel, Co. Tipperary, Ireland


We left the fancy penthouse, we’d stayed in for two nights on the Quayside in Dublin and headed West on 18 September 2014.

Cashel is a good stopping off point if you want to stay on the way to the West: Cork or Killarney. It is quicker if less interesting to get to the latter via Limerick. (Limerick is supposedly the crime capital of Ireland after Dublin, according to locals in the West.)

Dry growth, drystone wall & Cashel Town
Dry growth, drystone wall & Cashel Town

We only stayed one night, visiting the Rock in mid-afternoon and hanging around on the site in the dusk because it was extraordinary. We walked down to the ruins of Hore Abbey and then into town. The town centre is quaint.

Rock of Cashel, other buildings
Rock of Cashel, other buildings

The Rock

High Cross and view of Golden Vale of Tipperary
High Cross and view of Golden Vale of Tipperary

The Rock of Cashel is on a small rocky plateau that rises 90-metres above the surrounding plain known as the Golden Vale of Tipperary. The views are wonderful. The name Cashel comes from the Gaelic for stone fort and has been a fortified position since the 4th century. The oldest edifice still standing is the round tower dating from 1101.

In 1101, King Muircheartach O’Brien presented the Rock to the Church to curry favour with the powerful bishops and to end secular rivalry over possession of the Rock with the Eóghanachta, by now known as the MacCarthys.

Cormac’s Chapel was consecrated in 1134. The Chapel contains the oldest and most important Romanesque wall paintings in Ireland. The oldest dates from 1134. The Cathedral built between 1235 and 1270 is an aisleless building with a cruciform plan, having a central tower. The site is walled and contains an extensive graveyard with several high crosses.

Although they are ruins the video orientation, the presentation and the signage are good, as befits an important heritage site.

There are two famous figures associated with the Rock of Cashel (also called St Patrick’s Rock). St Patrick converted the pagan king of Munster Aengus MacMutfraich in about 450 AD and Brian Boru was crowned High King here in 990 AD.

Cistercian Hore Abbey ruins, 1272
Cistercian Hore Abbey ruins, 1272

Visible from the west side of the Rock are the ruins of Cistercian Hore Abbey, dating from 1272.

Near the base of the hill in the town of Cashel is a ruined Dominican friary, which was founded by the archbishop in 1243, renovated after a fire in 1480, and dissolved in 1540 (Henry VIII). The monastic buildings have not survived but the church walls are mostly intact.

O'Dwers Family Butcher
O’Dwers Family Butcher, Cashel

The Town

It’s a five-minute walk from the Rock into the town centre, which is worth seeing. The residential part of Cashel feels slightly like a housing estate, though this is typical in Ireland. Cashel was our first introduction into a small Irish town of some charm. We found it exciting.

The following morning we wandered around town in the daylight and took some photos, heading off for Killarney mid-morning. We stayed in Cashel overnight and certainly didn’t try to see or do everything. You could easily stay a day or two longer.

Brosnan's Bar & Hurling
Brosnan’s Bar & Hurling, Cashel

Tourist perspective and hurling

Georgian Doorway, Cashel
Georgian Doorway, Cashel

The tourist video below (9 min) is a trifle long, but covers everything there is to see. However, they get distracted often on disabled access and other non-tourist resources. Disabled access is important, but the excessive focus in the video is almost amusing. The app for the walking tour sounds promising. We did our own thing, which was good enough.

The video says that Cashel is a mad-keen hurling centre and this was obvious throughout the town.

The All Ireland hurling final between Tipperary and Kilkenny (the next county over— to the East) had been played on 7 September at Croke Park in Dublin to a 31-pt all draw. The rematch on 27 September, which we watched, ended in a 3-pt loss for Tipperary. Cashel would have been a gloomy town that night.

Hurling is a spectacular spectator sport. On 7 June 2014 Kilkenny versus Offaly was broadcast on Sky Sports, the first time a Championship fixture was broadcast live to a UK-wide audience. We may see Hurling in Australia one day. Frequently, a modified Gaelic football is played between Ireland and Australia. The Australians are professional AFL (Aussie Rules) champions but they are unfamiliar with the Gaelic round ball and the tactics, and are sometimes at a disadvantage.

Hurling at the supermarket, Cashel
Hurling at the supermarket, Cashel

The Rock of Cashel itself is well-organised for the tourist and a must see. The Lonely Planet wryly notes that there is often scaffolding, which is moved around in a never-ending struggle to keep the Rock caulked, and you have to put up with it.

Our accommodation close to the Rock was quite pleasant but not special, a commercial B&B. We ate somewhere in town, which was again OK but not memorable. Although the standard of food in Ireland is better than England as outlined in British Food — an appraisal of the middle, we didn’t get excited that often.

Harrington's Bookmaker, Cashel
Harrington’s Bookmaker, Cashel

We drove to Killarney on secondary roads, slower but very pleasant.

Photos and Slides of Cashel

The photos are on Picasa albums to return use the back arrow on your browser. The slideshows can also be used as click through carousels. You can also navigate into a slideshow or carousel in Picasa. Top left or click on photo.

Photos of Cashel

For slides with captions see Slideshow of Cashel

Alternatively, go to Galleries  and Slideshows for more instructions

Key Words: Cashel, The Rock of Cashel, St Patrick, Brian Boru, Cashel town, Golden Vale of Tipperary, Cistercian Hore Abbey, Cormac’s Chapel, cathedral, Dominican friary, hurling

Further Information

Town fountain, Cashel
Town fountain, Cashel


General costs are covered in What Travel Costs: Europe 2014 specific costs will be covered in some later articles.

AirBNB where we stayed

Dublin — Top Floor Dble Room+Balcony&View

Cashel — Best Located B &B in Co Tipperary

The Rock of Cashel

Wikipedia on the Rock of Cashel

Relief carving, The Rock of Cashel
Relief carving, The Rock of Cashel

Short Tourism information

Lonely Planet on the Rock of Cashel

Slightly longer article by Heritage Ireland

Heritage Ireland on the Rock of Cashel

Tourist Video

Tourist video tour (8.49 min). This has some good information but suffers from a lack of hard-edged professional advice. They are pleased that they are becoming a gold ‘friendly access’ site but forget that we probably aren’t interested, except to know that.

2014 All Ireland Hurling Finals

Wikipedia on the 2014 All Ireland Hurling Finals

Wikipedia on the 2014 All Ireland Championship Competition


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