near Cashel, County Tipperary, Ireland
Set on a limestone plateau the castle at the Rock of Cashel forms part of a historical site in the town of Cashel 11 miles from south west of Tipperary.
The site also known as the Cashel of Kings and St Patrick’s Rock is a collection of buildings including a round tower, Romanesque chapel, cathedral and castle which are linked together as one building. The main structures on the site today are from the 12th and 13th centuries and are in reasonable repair. The entire site is surrounded by a large wall which also encircles an extensive graveyard with a number of high crosses.
The oldest building on the site is the round tower dating back to 1100AD. The tower 90 feet in height is very well preserved and was built with an entrance 12 feet above ground level.
Cormac’s chapel dates back to 1134AD and was built for King Cormac III of Munster. The Romanesque church is unlike any other because it has twin towers at either side of the nave and chancel which were decorated by carpenters sent by the Abbot of Regensburg in Germany. The chapel also has barrel vaulted ceilings and intricate decoration over the main entrances.
The Cathedral; built in the shape of a crucifix between 1235 and 1270, has a central tower. The western part of the cathedral is the part that is attached to the castle. The Hall of the Vicars Choral is a 15th century building within the cathedral where laymen were appointed to assist with the worship. This part of the site was restored by the Office of Public works in 1975 in connection with the European Architectural Heritage year and is now where visitors enter the site.
As well as the collection of buildings the Rock of Cashel has exhibition space and an audio visual show outlining the history of the site. The site is open from October to March between 9am and 4.30pm, April to June 9am and 5.30pm and July and August between 9am and 7pm.
During the Irish Confederate wars in 1647 Cashel was attacked by English soldiers under the command of the 1st Earl of Inchquin, Murrough O’Brien in one of the most brutal parts of the war. Most of the 1,000 civilians, apart from the Bishop and Mayor who had a secret hiding place, were killed. Following the killing the site was plundered for its religious artifacts and even the carriage belonging to the Bishop was stolen. Those items deemed worthless such as statues were smashed or defaced and then the whole town was set alight. It wasn’t until 1749 that the Bishop of Cashel had the remains of the cathedral’s roof removed.
Other Castles in the Area
Ardfinnan Castle, County Tipperary
Ardmayle Castle, County Tipperary
Ballinard Castle, County Tipperary
Ballindoney Castle, County Tipperary
Ballynahow Castle, County Tipperary
Burncourt Castle, County Tipperary
Cahir Castle, County Tipperary
Court Castle, County Tipperary
Lisheen Castle, County Tipperary
Loughlohery Castle, County Tipperary
Loughmore Castle, County Tipperary
Milltown St John Castle, County Tipperary