THE ROCK OF CASHEL
The Rock of Cashel is much more thanjust a Castle; it has a Castle, a Cathedral, a round tower and the remains of two churches amongst its many phases of building still surviving. It was at Cashel where St. Patrick reputedly thrust his staff through the foot of King Aenghus during a baptism ceremony; the King, thinking it to be part and parcel of the ceremony, didn't even complain.
The first thing that strikes you about this place is that it is the only high ground for miles in any direction and absolutely dominates the Tipperary plain. Cormac, King of Munster in the 4th Century built the first structure here and chose it as his Capital. In the 970s Brian Boru, later to be High King of all Ireland and the greatest figure in Irish history, was crowned here as King of Munster.
In 1014 the land passed to the Church and Cormac's chapel was built here. In 1169 a Cathedral was begun next to it. In 1172 Henry II of England assembled the Irish clergy here to pay their homage to him. This Cathedral was replaced by another in the 1260s and it is the ruins of this building that remain today and dominate the site.
Much later a tower house was added to the site to protect the religious buildings. This was around the early 1400s. It stood to around 73 metres tall and much of it remains today.
Once again it was Cromwell who ended the continuous occupation of the Rock. In 1647 he laid siege to the Rock and once the occupants had surrendered he massacred 3,000 of them. The Monastery was occupied until the 18th century.
The site is one of the most historic and important in all Ireland, and although the Castle is almost lost amidst the other ruins it is still well worth a visit.
The Rock of Cashel is owned by Páirceanna agus Séadchomharthai Náisiúnta na hÉireann (or the Irish Ministry of Works) and is open to the public throughout the year.
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