Cashel Rock Castle
The Rock of Cashel is a national monument of Ireland, once a residence of Irish monarchs and later a pilgrimage place for Christian believers.
In addition to its outstanding architecture and ancient frescoes, it is famous for being the home of St. Patrick many centuries ago. Also about Cashel love to tell stories, where the main characters are ghosts and lost souls.
History of the Castle Rock of Cashel
The rock on which the castle is located was chosen to build fortifications by a chief of one of the Irish clans back in the 4th century. A momentous event that influenced the further history of the castle happened in 450. St. Patrick came to these lands, bringing with him the canons of the new faith. He succeeded in converting the ruler of the territory to Christianity.
The Rock of Cashel became the coronation site of Brian Boru in 977. In the 12th century, after ruler Murtagh O’Brien gave the fortress to the church, it became the seat of the country’s high clergy.
In the 17th century, troops of the English Parliament seized the castle and the surrounding land. They treated the locals very cruelly – many were burned alive within the walls of the church, where people sought protection. After these tragic events, where there were about 3,000 victims, the Rock of Cashel became a symbol of the resilience of the Irish and their struggle for freedom.
The Rock of Cashel, which according to Irish historians and cultural historians deserves to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is open to the public. This monument of antiquity is periodically restored to avoid destruction and collapse.
The Medieval buildings are protected by a stone wall, rightly described as the most picturesque achievements of the Irish craftsmen of that era. Above the other structures of the complex rises a round tower, apparently serving as one of the first fortifications of the area that survived to this day. The cathedral, decorated with cornices with reliefs of animals and arches, is also called Cormac’s Chapel. Its interior is completed with frescoes, which in the 13th century were hidden by a layer of whitewash. Their existence became known only in the second half of the last century. Earlier it was thought that King Cormac himself rested in a richly decorated sarcophagus within the walls of the church. Above the entrance is a symbolic drawing of a brave centaur drawing his bowstring, about to shoot a lion. Nearby are two chapels and niches where the tombs of the local archbishops are hidden. The original ancient cross with the image of St. Patrick can be seen in the church museum, and a copy of it decorates the top of the cathedral. By the way, this is the only structure in the Romanesque style in Ireland. Around the church is an ancient cemetery, where you can honor both ordinary citizens and those who made a significant contribution to the development of the fortress.
The mystical rock of Cashel
There are a lot of legends connected with the fortress of Cashel. It is not surprising, because the structure has a rich history. Take the legend about the origin of the rock, where the castle was built. Allegedly it was a large piece of the nearby mountains, which was bitten off by the devil himself and threw on this spot.
One story by an Irish writer mentions a certain gravedigger from Cashel who took special care of the graves in the cemetery near the cathedral. His fate is said to have been tragic. A fellow named Paddy O’Sullivan was handsome and popular with the local girls. The one he asked to dance at one of the town festivals was invariably the cause for gossip. His fiancee was the mysterious Nora, at first did not show any apparent interest in his advances. But as it turned out later, their feelings were mutual. Happiness of the couple was prevented by the girl’s father – he had already arranged for a lucrative party, bringing not only wealth for his only daughter, but also the opportunity to cover his own debts. As much as she resisted, her father decided to take her away from her lover. On the way, having had too much to drink the night before, old O’Moore had gone in the wrong direction and stopped in Cashel. They had to stop for the night at a local tavern, where Nora managed to escape. Her father, noticing she was missing, rushed after her. After a while, the innkeepers and servants set out to find her, but found only traces of a desperate struggle on the cliff. The next morning their bodies were found in the river and buried in the local cemetery. After this tragedy, the girl’s soul began to appear to her lover and call out to Cashel Castle. He did not hesitate to follow the call, no matter how much his parents resisted the decision. Paddy began to take care of his beloved’s grave (and later all the others), and Nora appeared to him from time to time. The mysterious gravedigger was feared, and after meeting him, it was said that he looked right through people, and they did not understand how it was possible to spend so much time in a place where the deceased were buried.
Locals, according to the author, not that believe in all the legends of the castle, but still rarely climb the rock after sunset – what if one of the mystical stories come to life?
Cashel Rock, the former residence of the kings of Ireland
Cashel Rock is one of the most visited landmarks in Ireland, also known as St. Patrick’s Rock. This place is also called the Rock of Kings. The ancient Celtic cathedral is located in the Irish county of Tipperary. The castle, built in the 4th century, was the royal residence of the provinces of southern Ireland, 100 years later St. Patrick was settled there. After the attack of Cromwell’s army, the castle complex became a symbol of fortitude and courage of Irish people. The grounds of the castle still contain residences, outbuildings, and the ruins of a cathedral.
General information and historical facts
Cashel Rock in Ireland is on the list of the most popular and visited tourist spots in the country. Of course, today there is little left of the castle’s former grandeur, but the landmark attracts a complicated history, rich in various events. Located in the county of Tipperary, the ancient Celtic cathedral used to be a castle, which the locals called a “stone fortress”, hence the name of the rock.
Interesting fact! The name Cashel is the English version of the word of Irish origin – caiseal, translated as a fortress or consolidation.
The town of Cashel is an interesting historical place in Ireland, with which many myths and legends are associated. It is home to about 3 thousand people. The settlement has preserved a vestige of antiquity and special color, and is an excellent example of a traditional Irish city. The population is small and the area is quite modest, but in Cashel every tourist will find interesting attractions.
The castle ruins are located on the plateau, where you can also visit the cemetery, where many of the graves have crosses. The oldest and largest is the Scully Cross, erected in 1867. In the middle of the last century, lightning struck the base and the cross was destroyed. Today its ruins are preserved at its base.
The history of the castle dates back to the 4th century BC, – a representative of the clan Eoganachts – Conall Cork founded the fortress structure, which became the royal residence of the Irish rulers.
In 450, St. Patrick appeared in the Irish countryside, converting the ruling monarch to Christianity. Fifteen years later the rock and fortifications were taken over by the country’s supreme king, Brian Boru, and 13 years later it was at the castle that he was crowned.
At the beginning of the 12th century, the castle was granted to the church by the decision of the reigning king, after which it became a powerful, major religious center. Later, Cormac’s chapel was built within the castle complex and St. Patrick’s Cross was erected. By the mid-12th century, Cashel became the residence of the bishops, and in the mid-12th century, they began to build a cathedral near the castle. Construction work lasted for more than 60 years and was finished in 1234. In the middle of the 17th century, the whole territory of Ireland was covered by military operations; tragic events did not pass by, then the Irish Parliament troops destroyed the rock of Cashel.
During the hostilities, many clerics were killed and shrines stored on the rock were stolen. According to historical data, the number of dead is about 3 thousand people; the survivors sought protection in the cathedral. Cromwell’s army burned the people alive. After these events the castle is the Irish symbol of the heartlessness of the English, as well as the courage of the Irish.
Interesting fact! During archaeological excavations, traces of burials and religious buildings dating back to the 9th-10th century were discovered.
Many myths are associated with the rock, the most popular one tells of the appearance of St. Patrick, as well as the rite of baptism of King Eoghan. During the religious ceremony, the devil circled over Ireland, trying to interfere with the rite. When he reached the mountains, he bit off a large rock and spat it out over the place where the baptism took place, and so the Rock of Cashel appeared.
Good to know! King Eoghan, baptized by St. Patrick, was the first Christian monarch on Irish territory.
Architecture and structure of the castle
The entrance to the castle complex is equipped through the Vicarage Hall. In 1975, this hall was included in the list of European heritage, so the landmark was restored and renovated. Also on the rock of Cashel built Museum of Artifacts, here are exhibits discovered in different years in the settlement.
Interesting fact! In the museum tourists are shown a documentary about the history of the site. You can go through the museum halls on your own or with a guide, but keep in mind that there are no Russian-speaking guides.
Of course, the most valuable and well-preserved structure on the rock is the Cormac Chapel. The structure has a complex structure – this is the main difference from most Romanesque churches, which are characterized by the simplest architecture and laconic decoration. In the eastern part of the nave two towers are built, which appeared in the project under the influence of German architecture. The facade is richly decorated with details typical of Romanesque style – arches, carvings, figures of animals. Inside, the walls of the chapel are decorated with ancient Romanesque paintings. Until the end of the last century they were hidden by a layer of plaster. In the western part of the chapel there is a sarcophagus where Cormac was buried.
The cathedral on Cashel has a cruciform shape and a circular annex. The tower, 28 meters high, is the tallest and oldest part of the religious structure. At the top of the tower there is an observation deck from where you can admire the beautiful scenery.
At the foot of the cliff are the ruins of the Dominican Men’s Church, built in the 13th century. There are other interesting sights in this part of Ireland: the Back of the Deacons and the Abbey of Ghor.
Interesting fact! There is a legend in Ireland that tells of the appearance of the shamrock, the symbol of Ireland. According to one legend, during a religious ceremony St. Patrick tore off the shamrock, thereby explaining the mystery and meaning of the Trinity. The shamrock is believed to be a Christian Irish symbol.
How to get there
There are about 15 buses to Cashel daily from various points. The most frequent trips to the landmark are by shuttle buses from Dublin and Cork. The trips are organized by the company Bus Eireann. The buses leave every two hours.
Interesting to know! If you book your ticket online you can get a 10% discount.
In addition, Bus Eireann buses depart from Waterford and Limerick. There are usually about 6 departures from each locality.
- The address is Moore, Cashel, Co. Tipperary.
- The Castle’s schedule is open year-round, from June to mid-September from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., in other months the doors of the castle complex close at 4:30 and 5:30 p.m. For the exact schedule, see the official website of Cashel Castle (www.heritageireland.ie).
The cost of tickets Castle:
- adult – 8 euros;
- for pensioners – 6 euros;
- For children and students €4.
All useful information can be found on the official site: www.heritageireland.ie/en/.
Useful information! There are toilets and parking lots in the castle complex. You can also pay by bank card.
After your visit to Cashel Rock Castle, stop by the Bolton Library, which has an amazing collection of ancient books, voted the best collection since Dublin. It’s also interesting to visit the Bru Boru National Cultural Center located at the Rock of Cashel, where you can immerse yourself in national music, theater, song, dance, and explore Celtic culture.
Cashel Rock is an amazing, magical place shrouded in legends and myths. After the tour, be sure to walk to the town, the walk will take 10-15 minutes, indulge in peaceful views of meadows, grazing sheep and stone hedges.
Author: Julia Matyukhina
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