Rock of Cashel is an item on lots of touring lists for Ireland. It is a well preserved collection of abbeys and friaries that were located on the top of a hill in the midlands of Ireland.
Cashel was the traditional seat of the Kings of Munster for hundreds of years until it was donated to the church in 1101 by the reigning King of Munster.
It is a remarkable collection of medieval architecture and Celtic art. There is an intact Round Tower on the site as well as towers flanking Cormac’s Chapel. It is usually overcome by tourists. So lines can be long for tickets and access to the site. This is one tourist site that requires some patience. The guided tours are really good so be sure and avail yourself of that opportunity. Also wrap up. It’s on a hill so it can be quite windy. We were there on a cloudy, drizzly day so hats, gloves and scarves were the order of the day.
One of the most important structures at the Rock of Cashel is Cormac’s Chapel. It contains remains of Irish Frescoes from the 1100’s and is also remarkable for its vaulted ceilings, carved heads and altar. It has recently been restored and access is limited.
Entrance to the Chapel is by an additional ticket. If you have a Heritage Pass you will also be given a ticket for Cormac’s Chapel. You should definitely see it. They only allow so many visitors per day as the interior of the chapel is closely monitored in order to preserve the remaining frescoes. You can imagine what it must have been like when the Chapel was first in use. It was a feast for the senses. The residuals of the frescoes indicate a vibrant use of color in the telling of the stories in the Bible.
Either before or after your visit to Rock of Cashel you should definitely take some time to visit Hore Abbey. The Abbey is located within walking distance and can be seen from the back side of Rock of Cashel. Rock of Cashel was absolutely packed when we visited … we were entirely alone at Hore Abbey. It was a nice respite from the crowds.
The Abbey is less well preserved but you still have the sense of those that lived and worked in the space so many hundreds of years ago. If it’s not your first Abbey, you’ll be able to understand the layout and their are some signs to help you.
The day was actually quite cold so we opted for tea in town after visiting Rock of Cashel and Hore Abbey.