The Rock of Cashel

The Rock of Cashel, Cashel, County Tipperary

Situated in the heart of Cashel in County Tipperary is the Rock of Cashel. The name Rock of Cashel comes from the irish meaning Caiseal which stands for Strong Fort, and it has been in use since the fourth century. Because of its height and the fact that the surrounding land of Tipperary can be seen for miles, this made it an ideal fortress to defend against its enemies. It consists of an impressive group of buildings including a round tower, a 13th century cathedral, 15th century castle, a High Cross and a Romanesque Chapel, as well as remains of ancient buildings and tombstones all built on a rock plateau. The Rock is also known widely as St. Patrick’s Rock (Carraig Phádraig) and Cashel of the Kings.

The prevailing Eóghanachta clan ruled the region for centuries from the stronghold but lost possession to the O’Briens in the 10th century under their leader, Brian Boru. The Rock of Cashel was the seat of many great High Kings of Ireland, the most famous being Brian Boru who was crowned High King of Ireland in 990 in this ancient kingdom of Munster. Unlike the Kings that came before and after him, Brian Boru (Bryan Boru) was the only High King to unify the whole island of Ireland under the one rule. He ruled from his fortress of Cashel for another 20 years and was instrumental in keeping the Vikings at bay while bringing order and success to his country.

St. Patrick is also strongly associated with the Rock of Cashel before the time of Brian Boru, this is supposedly the site where St. Patrick is responsible for converting the pagan King of Munster, Aengus MacMutfraich in the 5th Century. The King of Munster Muirchertach Ua Briain donated the Rock of Cashel to the Church in 1101. From then came the rule of Cromwell who subjected Cashel, taking over control in 1649. The control was given back to the church again but they stopped using the church by the mid 17th century.

The Rock of Cashel crosses over the centures from the time of Brian Boru and the High Kings of Ireland to St. Patrick and the Bishops of Ireland who worked and lived on this great Rock.