Rock of Cashel
Perched on a hill overlooking the rolling countryside and mountains of Co. Tipperary, the mighty Rock of Cashel is another incredibly beautiful medieval structure. Much like the monastic site at Glendalough, the Rock of Cashel also features a dry stone round tower which stands at a height of 28 metres. It’s the oldest structure of the site, the rest being various chapels, a cathedral, castle and a hall that are all tightly clustered together and added as time went on. There’s a massive mix of architectural styles too, but that’s what gives it that charm – you’d be forgiven to think it looks like something out of a fairy tale.
The whole site is enclosed by fortifications, giving it that amazing castle-like atmosphere. And again there’s plenty of history behind the venerable stone walls – local legend has it that the Rock itself was formed after the Devil had taken a bite out of Bearnán Éile mountain (hence the name Devil’s Bit in English!). King Aengus was baptised by St. Patrick at the Rock of Cashel, with it also serving as the seat of the kings of Munster. There were even disputes between several local clans as they strove to control the rock before Murtagh O’Brien donated it to the Church in 1101AD. Inside you can admire the beautiful vaulted arches of the many chapels and go for a wonder between the impressive headstones and Celtic crosses in the graveyard.
It’s just a short walk to the castle from the town centre of Cashel, so be sure to definitely sit down for a coffee and a delicious lunch. There are several excellent B&Bs and hotels close by so you’re spoilt for choice. And why not pop up to the Slieve Bloom Mountains for a hike? As well as being one of Europe’s oldest mountain ranges, it’s also just over an hour away from the Rock of Cashel – perfect for the outdoorsy types!