Rock of Cashel

Rock of Cashel, St Patrick’s Rock, Cashel of Kings. Whatever you call it, it should be on your Ireland travel list.

St Patricks Rock, Rock of Cashel in Ireland on a stormy day.

History

Folklore suggests that St Patrick made his mark here when he banished the devil himself, creating this huge rock formation that the structures sit on today. St Patrick also appointed the King of Munster (later known as the High King of Ireland) on that same spot. The king was the first Christian ruler in Ireland.

Medieval castle wooden door in Ireland. Reminds me of King Arthur.

Cashel is not actually a castle, like many might think, but a collection of religious structures. Most of these structures were built in the 11 and 12 hundreds. There’s the round tower, which has been filled in with mortar for preservation.

Rock of Cashel Irish graveyard in the ancient East.

There’s Cormac’s chapel – built for King Cormac Mac Carthaigh and finished in 1134. The largest structure, though, is the cathedral. While it was once considered the jewel of Ireland’s churches, someone decided to remove the roof in 1749. I haven’t been able to figure out why, but it probably had something to do with the unsurmountable repairs. There has been some talk of rebuilding the roof in upcoming years.

Ancient castle church in Ireland made of stone on a stormy day.
Inside the Rock of Cashel in Ireland's ancient East.

On the site, there are also many different types of crosses, but none so important as the Cross of Cashel. It is said to have healing powers, and in order to preserve its sacredness, it was moved indoors in the 1970s. The one that stands outside is just a replica.

St Patricks Cross at Rock of Cashel.
Rock of Cashel for St Patrick in Ireland.

The one inside is the original, made of limestone. It’s now well-protected against the elements – preserved for future generations.

The actual St Patricks Cross at Ireland's Rock of Cashel.

Other crosses can be found in the ancient graveyard, just outside the chapel.

Irish cross in the rain
Irish High Cross

What to see & when to go

During your visit to Cashel, you can hop on a free tour of the place. This is definitely where you will learn the most information and history about the site, and what is being done today to preserve it. There is unfortunately not a lot of data available online, so it’s a must.

A rainy day in Ireland. Touring the Rock of Cashel. Black umbrella.

As most of the site is outdoors, umbrellas and rain gear are important!

Standing in St Patricks Rock or the Rock of Cashel in Ireland. Wearing a Topshop raincoat and black umbrella with blue Hunter boots.

If you do need to get out the Irish rain for a bit, there is a great exhibit indoors, in the Hall of the Vicars Choral with artifacts that have been found throughout the site. There’s even a great little film they play. My favourite exhibit is the one from Queen Elizabeth’s visit back in 2011.

Ancient Irish tapestry.

Nearby the Rock of Cashel

Just around the back of the Rock, if you keep going past the sheep and into the field, you can spot Hore Abbey. The Abbey is a Cistercian (Catholic religious order) monastery that was built in the 13th century. It’s worth a look, and is far less known than Cashel.

Rolling green hills with sheep in Ireland. Rock of Cashel in the ancient East.
St Dominick's Abbey in Cashel, Ireland
Hore Abbey

While Blarney Castle is certainly the most famous site here in Ireland’s south, the Rock of Cashel is a favourite among locals. It felt far more authentic and untouched by the tourist industry.

For tickets and hours, visit this site.

The Rock of Cashel in Ireland's ancient East. Rolling green grassy hills with sheep grazing on a cloudy day.

More Ireland

For more Ireland, check out my posts here.

For where to stay nearby, try this lovely AirBnB.

Wearing a Topshop rain jacket and blue Hunter rain boots on a visit to Ireland. What to wear in Ireland travel girl.

2 Comments

  1. Kay
    September 13, 2019 / 2:18 pm

    I love plaves that offer free tours! I feel like im going to have to keep a separate folder just for all of the castles!

    • catekittlitz
      Author
      September 13, 2019 / 2:43 pm

      Ireland and the UK has so many castles it’s ridiculous. I think I read somewhere that if you went to a few castles every week just in those countries, it would take 50+ years to see them all!

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