31 Jul Rock of Cashel, County Tipperary
Well before you reach Cashel, the rock that bears its name appears on the skyline, rearing up from the landscape in a series of limestone ridges and topped by the serenely beautiful Cathedral of St Patrick. The cathedral’s roofless chancel and nave is 93ft long and its central tower 85ft high. Close by, seeming to be part of the building but detached from it, is a 12th century Round Tower, more that 70ft to its pointed roof and still in a fine state of preservation.
The oldest part of this magnificent complex is Cormac’s Chapel, with a doorway decorated with chevrons and the heads of dragons and humans. The interior contains a stone sarcophagus, carved with interlacing serpents, which may be the tomb of Cormac McCarthy (d.1138), King of Munster. He is thought to have erected the chapel between 1127 and 1134.
The entrance to the buildings is through the 15th century Vicars Choral Hall, which once housed the choir members and is the only structure of its kind in Ireland. It now houses a museum, the focal point of which is St Patrick’s Cross and Coronation Stone. The former location of the cross outside is now marked by a modern replica. The 7ft tall cross dates from the 12th century, and the robed figure on one face is said to be St Patrick. The pedestal supporting the cross is said to date from the 4th century, and tradition has it that it was the stone upon which the Kings of Munster were crowned.
St Patrick arrived at Cashel during the 5th century and baptised King Aengus and his son at the stone. During the ceremony Patrick carelessly drove his crozier through the king’s foot. Asked later why he did not cry out in pain, the king replied that he had thought it was part of the baptismal rite.
The Rock of Cashel is a must see on your tours of Ireland, contact us now to arrange your private chauffeur driven tour!