Visiting The Rock of Cashel, Ireland

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After a gorgeous day at Killarney National Park and hiking at Torc Falls, we decided to visit a more historical site before we headed to Cork– The Rock of Cashel.
Here’s what wikipedia has to say about it:

According to local mythology, the Rock of Cashel originated in the Devil’s Bit, a mountain 20 miles (30 km) north of Cashel when St. Patrick banished Satan from a cave, resulting in the Rock’s landing in Cashel.  Cashel is reputed to be the site of the conversion of the King of Munster by St. Patrick in the 5th century.

The Rock of Cashel was the traditional seat of the kings of Munster for several hundred years prior to the Norman invasion. In 1101, the King of Munster, Muirchertach Ua Briain, donated his fortress on the Rock to the Church. The picturesque complex has a character of its own and is one of the most remarkable collections of Celtic art and medieval architecture to be found anywhere in Europe.  Few remnants of the early structures survive; the majority of buildings on the current site date from the 12th and 13th centuries.

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We took a guided tour of some of the architecture.  A lot of it was blocked off for maintenance, which was a little disappointing, but there was still plenty to see.  Here is the Gothic cathedral, built in the early 1200s.  You can also see the Round Tower in the back, which was one of the earliest buildings on the Rock of Cashel, dating from 1100.IMG_1842IMG_1838Something I found really fun and interesting is that Gothic architects often “signed” their work by installing a small sculpture of their own head in the building, as you will see below.IMG_1841Another point of interest is the fresco, one of the best-preserved in Ireland.  This Romanesque wall painting was covered over with whitewash during the Reformation in the 16th century and remained hidden until the 1980s.IMG_1844You can read a lot more about the buildings and history of the Rock of Cashel here.

The weather was really rainy, so it wasn’t quite ideal– but it made for some dreamy Irish views.IMG_1853IMG_1871 IMG_1873 IMG_1851 IMG_1879 IMG_1868 IMG_1850 IMG_1861 IMG_1864 By the time we left, we were completely soaked through from the rain.  We found such a pleasant place to dry off and enjoy a good meal nearby, that I have to let you know about it– just in case you find yourself in a similar situation.  Our lunch at Hans Cafe was really, really good.  (In fact, I have to say that we ate well at every single meal we had in Ireland.)  If you would like a fancier dining experience when you visit, Chez Hans looked pretty dreamy– situated in an 1861 church building.
IMG_1858My only regret was that we couldn’t see more of the surrounding area– we were cold and tired, and needed to get ourselves to Cork for the night.  But it was really beautiful, and we were so glad to see all that we did of the Rock of Cashel.

Thanks for coming along!

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