The Rock of Cashel was the first planned stop on my Ireland road trip itinerary. The beauty of a road trip around Ireland is that there are so many gorgeous stops and points of interest along wherever you are traveling. I drove from Dublin to Killarney and made my first spontaneous stop by visiting the Rock of Dunamase. The Rock of Cashel was my next stop, along with exploring Hore Abbey, which lies in the shadows of the Rock of Cashel. Both ruins are worth a stop on your Ireland road trip.
ABOUT THE ROCK OF CASHEL
The Rock of Cashel is one of Ireland’s most popular tourist attractions, and it’s not hard to see why. The limestone crop of rock juts out of the green meadows, and atop of this are a magnificent group of medieval ruins. Some of these ruins are nearly 1000 years old. There are multiple legends regarding the Rock of Cashel including that the Devil himself spit the rock up from his mouth after Saint Patrick had cornered and defeated him from a cave in the mountains in Tipperary. In 452, Saint Patrick was also supposed to have baptized King Aengus, Ireland’s first Christian ruler, here. The Irish Kings of Munster ruled from this site over 700 years. Another legend tells that while baptizing the King, Saint Patrick pulled a shamrock from the ground to explain the Trinity, thus giving Ireland a new and powerful symbol. It is easy to see why this ancient site attracts so many visitors – it is rich in history, symbolism, beauty, and legend.
There are multiple buildings situated on the top of the rock, the earliest dating from the 12th century. There are the round tower and chapel from the 12th century, a Gothic Cathedral from the 13th century, and the castle and Hall of Vicars (restored) from the 15th century. There is also a graveyard where many of the grave sites are over 100 years old. You can learn all about the Rock of Cashel from the museum, exhibit and take a tour.
WHY YOU SHOULD VISIT THE ROCK OF CASHEL
The rock of Cashel is a beautiful site. There is no other way to put it. It rises spectacularly on limestone rock, medieval ruins a top, high above the grassy meadows behind it. There is something just magical about seeing this from afar for the first time, and you cannot only drive by it and not explore. Some of the buildings have been on site for nearly a thousand years! It simply calls to you.
The ruins themselves are impressive, as is the guided tour, but I loved the cathedral with its missing roof. I loved just how massive this structure was, and for it to still be in ruin. One can only imagine the scene of this cathedral in its prime, with the roof on and those attending mass. If you are on a road trip from Dublin, this is a stop you cannot miss.
HOW TO GET TO THE ROCK OF CASHEL
The Rock of Cashel is around 2 hours drive from Dublin. It is halfway between Dublin and Cork.
OPENING TIMES AND CHARGE FOR ROCK OF CASHEL
The Rock of Cashel opens at 9 am every day and closes between 4 and 7 pm, depending on the time of the year. There is a charge of 8 Euros and includes a tour. Many posts on Trip Advisor and Google reviews say that they do not take credit cards and do not have toilets, but on my visit, they had both. There is parking near the Rock of Cashel, but it can be busy during the summer.
WHAT ELSE IS THERE TO DO AROUND THE ROCK OF CASHEL?
In the meadow below the Rock of Cashel is a ruined Cistercian monastery called Hore Abbey. It was founded in 1266 by the Benedictines. Unfortunately, the Archbishop David McCarvill had a dream that the Benedictine monks were plotting to kill him, and so he expelled them from the abbey. Like many of the ruins of Ireland, the monastery fell into disrepair around the time of the Cromwellian rebellion in the 17th century. Very few people visit the ruins, which makes it a lot of fun to explore. The abbey is free to visit and open at all times. You can access it by heading down the hill from the Rock of Cashel, or you can park across from the abbey in the tiny parking lot across the road.
Apart from Hore Abbey, there are a couple of shops, restaurants, and pubs in the town center to have lunch. It is a cute little town, and also worth a stop.
Hore Abbey and the Rock of Cashel were some of my first stops on my road trip to Ireland. The ruins, history and green countryside of Ireland are truly spectacular and I loved every moment of my trip here. If you are planning on doing a road trip around Ireland, make sure the Rock of Cashel and Hore Abbey are on your itinerary.
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