It’s the first Wednesday of the New Year, and time for my first Wednesday Wander. This week I’m heading to the green centre of Ireland, and an ancient fortress once home to kings. This is the Rock Of Cashel in Co. Tipperary, Ireland.
Cashel was, for centuries, the seat of the Kings of Ulster, and its name comes from the Gaelic ‘Caiseal’, meaning fortress. Cashel is also reputed to be the place where the fifth century King was converted to Christianity by St Patrick. Certainly there is a cross there, much weathered, which is said to have belonged to St Patrick (if one can be said to own a huge stone cross). The original has been moved into the museum on site, with a replica in its place outside. This is because of a legend attached to the cross – apparently, if you can reach all the way around it with both arms and your fingers touch, you’ll never have to go to the dentist again. I couldn’t quite manage it, but my husband did – however, I have to report that he has been to the dentist since our visit.
Cashel was donated to the Church in 1101, and hardly any of the early buildings remain. The circular tower in the photo above is the oldest building on site and dates to 1100 – the rest of the buildings are mostly 12th and 13th century. The ruins are magnificent, and include the vast St Patrick’s Cathedral, a residential palace for the bishops who used to live there, as well as ornamental gravestones and monuments. It used to be that every resident of Cashel was buried on the Rock but we were told that, sometime in the last century, it was realised there was no more room. So, every inhabitant of Cashel at that time was told that they would be buried on the Rock – after that, no more. At the time of our visit there were still, apparently, a few remaining locals with the right to burial within the ancient walls.
There are some interesting carvings on the monuments at Cashel, ravens and Celtic knots hearkening back to earlier times. The tomb above belonged to a king, and is carved with an infinity symbol made up of stylised greyhounds. I don’t know who was buried in the tomb below, but liked how it seemed they had decided to poke their head out for the photo…
It’s difficult to describe the scale of Cashel, or the beauty of its ancient stones and surrounding countryside, the endless fields a lush green. Despite its sometimes violent history, Cashel had a bright clear energy, and there was a sense of how very old a place it was. It was definitely a highlight of our visit to Ireland, and somewhere I’d like to see again, one day.
Thank you for coming on another Wednesday Wander with me – see you next time!
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Beautiful photos and interesting history. And what a cool place to be buried!
Thank you 🙂 It would be cool, wouldn’t it? A place for the ages…
It certainly is a fantastic place. Haven’t been there in YEARS! 😊
Yes, it’s fab, isn’t it? What I didn’t mention is that the kiddo, who was two at the time, decided to announce to a tour group that she’d just done a massive poo in her nappy! 😀 Trying to find a spot to change her that wasn’t somebody’s grave presented quite a challenge…
Stunning. I can feel the power of this place through the photos. Love this!
Thanks, Sarah – it was such a powerful place, definitely. The photos really don’t do it justice 🙂
Wonderful wander, and thanks for sharing it.
Thanks, Craig – it’s a pretty amazing place 🙂
Of course, if you slip whilst trying to reach both arms around the rock, you go straight to the dentist! I particularly liked the carvings, though. Lovely photos, Helen.
Haha, yes, definitely! Glad you liked the photos, Mick – they go a little way towards conveying the beauty of the place. It really is a spectacular spot.
Perhaps I’ll get there one day.
This looks stunning – The Bloke would love it!
It’s completely beautiful – the photos don’t really capture the grandeur of it 🙂
And there’s a very large shadowy ghost standing to the right of the head/skull! 😀
He must have invited a friend! 😀
Did you hug the real cross in the museum, or the replica? If it’s the latter, of course the anti-dentist function didn’t work.
Yes, of course! That’s why. The real cross was so weathered, I guess from all the people with perfect teeth hugging it haha.
Hugging it? Or gnawing on it? 😉
I found a photo of the original cross that I took, so I’ll add it to the post and you can see. It does look a bit gnawed, actually! 😀