The Rock of Cashel – One of Ireland’s Most Significant Strongholds (History & Travel Tips)

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The Rock of Cashel is a beautiful elevated landform with immense historical significance. It was home to quite a number of medieval fortresses and castles along with the most picturesque sites. 

From atop the rock, you can take in the mesmerising view of the stunning green plains of County Tipperary while experiencing the essence of major events in history and relishing some of the finest architectural marvels of Europe. On top of the St. Patrick’s Rock, from the Cathedral, which was used as a place for worship till the mid-1700s, to Cormac’s Chapel, which was built in the 12th century and contains the earliest Romanesque art in Ireland, the space is cluttered with incredible sites to visit.

According to Irish mythology and folktale, the rock originated in the mountain called the Devil’s Bit which is situated 20 miles away from Cashel. It is believed that Satan took a bite of the mountain and spat it to where the Rock of Cashel is currently located after being banished from a cave by Saint Patrick

A closer look of The Rock of Cashel's exterior structure.
A closer look of The Rock of Cashel’s exterior structure. Rock of Cashel flickr photo by D-Stanley shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Frequently Asked Questions

FOR HISTORY | BEAUTIFUL IMAGES | INTERESTING FACTS | TRAVEL TIPS

Early History

Irish Iron Age (4th – 12th century)

The Rock of Cashel was considered a symbol of power in ancient Ireland and therefore was held by kings and rulers. In the 4th century, it was under the hold of the kings of Munster, a monarchic establishment in ancient Ireland. 

They built a fortress on the site and ruled over a lot of the surrounding area. The King of Munster was converted to Christianity by Saint Patrick on the very site in the 5th century. By the late 10th century, the kingship was taken from the Eoganacht clan by the kings of Dal Cais. In the early 12th century, Muirchertach Ua Briain, the High King of Ireland donated his palace atop the Rock of Cashel to the church. 

A detailed view of The Rock of Cashel from the inside.
A detailed view of The Rock of Cashel from the inside.

12th Century Onwards

In the 12th century, Ireland was divided into territorial dioceses. The Rock of Cashel became a site of religious significance after Rome approved the appointment of archbishoprics in several points across Ireland, including at Cashel. A cathedral was constructed on Cashel soon after. Several buildings followed, including the Cormac’s chapel, The Choir, The Nave, and the Hall of the Vicars Choral. 

The church at the center of the site.
The church at the center of the site.

Fifteenth Century & Onwards (1494-1874)

The rock has also stood through some violent times in history. The cathedral on the Rock of Cashel was set ablaze in 1494 by the 8th Earl of Kildare, Gerald Fitzgerald just to exact revenge on his sworn enemy, Archbishop David Creague, who was inside the cathedral.

A portrait of Gerald Fitzgerald, the Earl of Kidare.
A portrait of Gerald Fitzgerald, the Earl of Kidare.

Lord Inchiquin attacked the town in 1647 with Cromwellian forces, asking for a sum of 3000 pounds. Upon having denied his demands, his forces killed over 3,000 people, including men, women, and children in a show of unimaginable brutality.

The Rock of Cashel's Cormac's Chapel top architectural structure.
The Rock of Cashel’s Cormac’s Chapel architectural structure. Cormac’s Chapel, Rock of Cashel, Caiseal, Éire flickr photo by w_lemay shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0)

The round tower also has damage from artillery fire from wars of the past. The Office of Public Works performed a major renovation in 1874 to preserve the site.

Current Times

In the present day, the Rock of Cashel is a popular tourist attraction in Ireland with historically significant architectural structures such as Cormac’s Chapel, The Cathedral, and the round tower. It draws a large crowd each day, particularly during the summer season. The site is open from 09:00 a.m – 4:45 p.m currently. 

A view of the side elevation of the Rock of Cashel and its entrance.
A view of the side elevation of the Rock of Cashel and its entrance.

Interesting Rock of Cashel Castle Facts

  • Queen Elizabeth II paid a visit to the Rock of Cashel in 2011 during her visit to Ireland.
  • The Rock of Cashel has a history dating more than 1000 years back.
  • The site is 200 feet high and offers stunning panoramic views of the surroundings.
  • The tallest building on the Rock of Cashel, the round tower, has a height of 90 feet.
  • According to Irish mythology and folktale, the rock originated in the mountain called the Devil’s Bit which is situated 20 miles away from Cashel. It is believed that Satan took a bite of the mountain and spat it to where the Rock of Cashel is currently located after being banished from a cave by Saint Patrick

Visiting Rock of Cashel Castle – Tips and Tricks

The Rock of Cashel is a sight of many marvels; if you want a true Irish experience, then you definitely need to visit the architectural ingenuities and the ruins left upon this site. If you’re planning a trip soon, here’s all you need to know:

The Rock of Cashel's view at nigh with lights.
The Rock of Cashel’s view at night. The Rock of Cashel flickr photo by still.epsilon shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

How to get to Rock of Cashel Castle?

The Rock of Cashel is around a 2-hour drive from Dublin via the M7 and M8, it should cost you around €19-€27 ($22-$32 USD) in terms of fuel. You can also take the bus from Heuston station which departs four times a day and travels via the X8, to the Cashel Stop 255231. You can then take an 8-minute walk to the site. The bus ride should cost you around €14-€21 ($17-$25 USD). 

If you wish to take the train, you can board at Heuston, get off at Thurles after a 1 hour 15-minute ride, and then take a taxi ride to the Rock of Cashel. The train fare would be around €14-€19 ($16-$23 USD) while the taxi ride would cost you around €34-€47 ($40-$55 USD).

Ticket Prices, Visiting Hours & Travel Tips

The entrance ticket to the site costs just €8 ($9 USD) and you can either tour the place by yourself at your own pace or take a guided one, they are conducted at regular intervals by well-informed tour guides. The guides would give you a thorough detail of the history and make sure you don’t miss out on anything significant. 

For groups and seniors, the ticket is priced at €6 ($7 USD). For children and students, it costs €4 ($5 USD), and for a family, you can get a ticket for €20 ($24 USD).


Note: Because of limited access during Covid, visits are both scheduled and free–but prior scheduling online is mandatory. There is no statement on how long this will be in effect.

The graveyard at the Rock of Cashel.
The graveyard at the Rock of Cashel. Graveyard, Rock of Cashel, Caiseal, Éire flickr photo by w_lemay shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0)

How Long Will It Take to Tour Around?

It should take you a maximum of around one and a half to two hours to tour the whole site.

Some words of advice and tips: 

  • Book your ticket online before visiting.
  • If you wish to avoid crowds, visit in the early morning around 9 a.m.
  • You may park your car at the parking lot situated at the base of the rock. There is, however, a parking cost. 
  • You should also visit Cashel Town, a beautiful historic town located close by where you can take a pleasant stroll and check out St John’s Cathedral, Hore Abbey, Dominican Abbey, and various other sites which are a fascinating reminder of the site’s rich history. 
  • Carry some spare money if you wish to avail the gift shop at the reception. The store has plenty of little trinkets and souvenirs for you to purchase! Bear in mind that the store doesn’t have a credit card payment facility, so you should have cash in hand. 
  • If you visit in summer, you may be treated to buskers showcasing traditional Irish dancing and/or music on the walkway up the hill.
  • You may also take a tour of the cemetery located close to the cathedral, which is marked by beautiful tall crosses with intricate engravings as per medieval customs. 

Quick Video Tour of The Main Rock of Cashel Castle Areas

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