..known for its three names, ‘Cashel of the Kings’, ‘St Patrick’s Rock’ or the one we already heard of, the ‘Rock of Cashel’, is one of the most remarkable collections of Celtic art as well as medieval architecture that can be explored anywhere on the European continent,
with the majority of the structural features and buildings that date back to the 12th or 13th century, surviving to this day.. .. .
…noted down as one of the oldest buildings on-site, the round tower is the ‘Rock of Cashel’s’ tallest feature. One could say, it is the feature that connects the building to the Irish sky…. .
TodaysWanderluster present’s you, with this week’s article on the Rock of Cashel, ‘The ‘Rock of Cashel’ – Ireland’s Medieval Jewel’
… interested in exploring the historic sites of Ireland? Make sure to check out our recent blog article on the Killarney National Park ‘The Gates of the Ring of Kerry’ to discover the Muckross and Inisfallen Abbey.. .. .
Welcome back to TodaysWanderluster !! It is Friday 7th of August, the day where we will be visiting, not just an Irish historic site but perhaps a European gem, as quoted, “one of the most remarkable collections of Celtic art and medieval architecture” that can be found … all across the European continent.
Our this week’s location being the well-known ‘Rock of Cashel’.
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Exploring the Rock of Cashel
In our previous article, we unveiled the history behind the historic site and south Tipperary gem ‘The Rock of Cashel’, and our team would highly encourage you to check out that article before moving on.
The Rock of Cashel
The Rock of Cashel, located in the northern tip of the small southern Tipperary county town of ‘Cashel’, is regarded as not just the most popular tourist attraction in the small town but perhaps a hidden gem of Tipperary county if not the Province of Munster as a whole.
Situated on the highest point of the town, the Rock of Cashel is known as a historic site in the area, leaving more to elaborate on what the structure might actually be, to the individual. The site is known for its three names, ‘Cashel of the Kings’, ‘St Patrick’s Rock’ or the one we’re so much used to hearing, the ‘Rock of Cashel’.
The Rock of Cashel, as described above, is one of the most remarkable collections of Celtic art as well as medieval architecture that can be explored anywhere on the European continent, with the majority of the structural features and buildings that date back to the 12th or 13th century, surviving to this day.
One can imagine themselves turning into a bird and flying the Irish sky above the town of Cashel and then over the ‘Rock of Cashel’, looking down they would notice that the structure is shaped like a crucifix and is surrounded with a number of tombstones and high crosses, a feature of the ‘Rock of Cashel’. (Now, of course, being a bird you wouldn’t notice too much of those high crosses, but the visible tombstones would definitely spark an idea that the area is a burial site).
Lowering to the ground now, planting our feet to the floor, once approaching the site we can notice a number of structural features the ‘Rock of Cashel’ has to show. One of the most well-known of these is the ‘Round Tower’.
Dating back to the year 1100, built using the dry stone method, it is noted down as one of the oldest buildings on-site, as well as that, the round tower is the ‘Rock of Cashel’s’ tallest feature (28 meters) can be observed from the outskirts of Cashel town. One could say, it is the feature that connects the building to the Irish sky. The round tower’s entrance (3.7 meters from the ground) and it’s shallow foundation are both typical and common of round towers found in Ireland.
Another eye-catching feature of the ‘Rock of Cashel’ is located on the south-eastern side of the building. The sophisticated structure that we know as the ‘Cormac’s Chapel’ displays contemporary European architecture combined with certain unique native elements. Interest in this building on the site is sparked also for its vaulted ceilings and wide archways.
Other exterior features of the ‘Rock of Cashel’
Mentioning contemporary European architecture, a germanic influence can be noticed especially in parts of the building like the Nave or the Chancel, this feature regarded as uncommon in Ireland.
The northern side of the Rock of Cashel is the one we would all be familiar with as many photographers choose to capture the building from this iconic side, when browsing the internet or scrolling down the #rockofcashel on Instagram, this is the face of the Rock we are looking at, even when we make purchases in the ‘Rock of Cashel’ gift shop we will most likely find merchandise with that side being shown.
So.. why is the northern side particularly so popular with the Photographers?
Besides the obvious, that it would make for a brilliant photo showing an iconic southern Tipperary landscape inhabited by a flock of sheep, composed of the vibrant green fields together with exposed rocks and boulders on the surface with the lens capturing one building in the entire photo which isn’t from our time. The absence of modern architecture and asphalt roads, vehicles and coloured signs more than likely adds to the feeling, that we might just be looking at the Rock of Cashel.. through the eyes of a medieval Irish-man.
However, another reason we think is that the northern side of the Rock of Cashel exhibits a greater number of the structure’s critical features. Looking at this side of the building we can spot, the high round tower, the cathedral, the north transept, the nave, and the tower house which is also known as the ‘Bishop’s Castle’.
From the opposite side, the side we look at when we are approaching the building or from the ‘Walk-around’ area south of the Rock of Cashel, the southern side, we can spot features like the south transept, the Cormac’s Chapel, the Hall of the Vicars Choral, the Cathedral, the Nave and the Tower House.
On the eastern side (view of the Rock of Cashel from the town of Cashel) we can observe the Round tower, the cathedral, and the Cormac’s Chapel tower. On the Rock ln road in Cashel on the approach to the site, we can get an improved view on the ‘Rock of Cashel’ and spot the more of the Cormac’s Chapel, the northern and southern transepts and perhaps even the tip of the tower house in the behind. The Hall of the Vicars Choral will become more evident as we look at the structure from this particular side.
The western side of the building that can be viewed from Camus road as well as the road that connects the roads r660 and r505, features both the north and south transepts, the round tower, and the tower house as well as part of the roof of the Vicars Choral Hall.
Each feature of the Rock of Cashel building is made out of stone with a number of stone carvings that decorated parts of the building, one example is the rose stone carving that can be seen on the very top part of the northern transept, northern wall.
To conclude on the features of the Rock of Cashel, let’s take a quick look on all of the remaining critical features that include the interior as well as exterior arcading, a barrel vaulted roof, the dominant north doorway and chancel archway aswell as the best preserved Irish frescoes from it’s particular time.
Fact || Did you know that the oldest stairs in Ireland can be found at the Rock of Cashel ?
Let’s see what else is around … .
What’s Nearby ?
Now that we have finally planted our ‘TodaysWanderluster’ flag on the soils of Cashel town at the ‘Rock of Cashel’, you might be curious to find out, if there might just be anything else in this southern tipperary town that remains un-discovered.
Like we mentioned on our previous adventure in Trim, it might be quite difficult to even imagine, that having an iconic site explored (in todays case – the Rock of Cashel) that there might even be anything else waiting out there for us to see.
However, having a total of six locations behind us already to which together we have allowed ourselves to be pulled to by that feeling of wanderluster,
you’d already know that here, we rarely ever do stop surprising you!!
The town of Cashel, located very closely to other southern Tipperary county towns like ‘Tipperary’ or ‘Clonmel’, may be hugely known for it’s centuries old mysterious yet fascinating gem that stands proud on the Irish soils aswell as one of Cashel’s top tourist attractions, but did you know that there is so much more that the eye can’t see?
As from what we dug up in our research of the town, we learned that Cashel is a town that appears to be hugely invested in it’s history and heritage, more over the culture and heritage of the Irish who resided there and of the Irish in general.
The town is home to two award winning musueums
Let’s read on .. .
Heritage . History . Culture
North-East of the ‘Rock of Cashel’ near the Kiln road, stands the ‘Brú Ború Heritage Centre‘ which is a cultural centre aswell as a regional centre for the Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann where a large variety of activities is offered.
It is known for it’s performed live traditional Irish music and it’s song and dance shows but it is also the place to go to if one wishes to submerge into the knowledge of the rich Irish culture and heritage.
The two museums mentioned above are the ‘Cashel Heritage Centre’ and the ‘Cashel Folk Village’, both located south of the Rock of Cashel.
The ‘Cashel Heritage Centre‘ can be found on the Main Street of Cashel and is as suggested to be “your first stop in Cashel” where one can truely explore the history of the town as they are presented with a model of the town which shows how it’s buildings and streets all looked like back in the 1640s. It is at that museum where we can view the charters of Cashel, the King Charles II (1663) aswell as James II (1687).
The museum is known as an award winning Heritage Centre and tourist Office in it’s area.
The ‘Cashel Folk Village’ can’t be found anywhere else but just a few feet away on Dominic Street. This museum on the other hand is a multi-award winning museum and has been classed each year, as the number 1 museum in the entire county on Tripadvisor.
It is there where we can explore the vast collection of original memorabilia that all relate to different time periods of the Irish history.
Landmarks & Architecture
You might have been curious to ask, what lies to the west of the ‘Rock of Cashel’..
Once approaching one of Cashel’s dearest gems, in the far off distance, what appears to be standing in the middle of a typical Irish countryside field, the mysterious old ruins of a once lively Monastery. That is the ‘Hore Abbey’, also known as St.Mary’s, and is defined as ruins of a Cistercian monastery, with it’s name ‘Hore’ thought to derive from ‘iubhair’ which means yew tree in Irish.
(Let us know by commenting below, if you’d like to read more on the ‘Hore Abbey’)
Taking a massive jump even further to the east, outside of Cashel on the other side of the river bank of the flowing Suir river, stands the old ruins of a tower house known as the ‘Ballinahinch Castle‘.
Flying back into Cashel, south-east of the ‘Rock of Cashel’, we can find the ‘St John the Baptist Catholic Church’ by the friar’s street and ‘Saint John’s Cathedral’ located in between John’s Street and Upper Friar’s Street.
Further down (south-east) at the town outskirts we can find the ‘The Bothán Scóir‘ a stone cottage which dates back to the 1640s. It is locally known as the ‘Hanleys Cottage’.
You’ll be more than likely, taken, by surprise with this one as we share with you that although Cashel town is not a coastal town and more over, it is located no where near a body of water like a sea..
it is connected to one.
Depending from which angle one look’s at it, Cashel stands at the beginning of an ancient pilgrim path (96km long) that strecthes over the various lands of the southern Tipperary countryside, the Knockmealdown Mountains at Bearna Cloch an Buideal or (Bottleneck Pass) and Waterford county western lands until reaching the Celtic sea at Ardmore.
It is known as ‘St. Declan’s Way’ and today it is regarded as a modern route that links the ancient ecclesiastical centres of Ardmore with Cashel town in Tipperary county.
Thank you for joining us on this adventure of the Rock Cashel. We hope you enjoyed reading this blog post and found it informative.
Next week is.. you guessed it!! Photographer’s Week!
Where we will be sharing with you our ‘Top 10 Best Viewing Points’ on the Rock of Cashel. Check out our previous article on the History of the Rock of Cashel here or in the below panel if featured.
Interested in our series ‘For The Photographers’ ?
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