We got up before Yvonne left for work to say “Thank you!” and “Goodbye.” She probably wouldn’t want me to go on and on about it, but we very much appreciated her hospitality, her generosity, her chauffeuring skills, her cooking and much, much more. She is incredibly generous, thoughtful and kind…and funny too!
It was another long drive today –our destination being the town of Kilkenny. We decided to visit the Rock of Cashel on the way to break up the ride.
The location seems to be a natural choice for a fortification. The “Rock” is 300 feet above the surrounding area. There is a tale that when St. Patrick was fighting the Devil in the nearby mountains, the Devil took a bite out of the mountain to create an escape route. He spat out the bite, which flew to this spot and became known as the “Rock of Cashel”. It took us a while to figure out that the “Rock” was the entire site!
Like so much else when it comes to history in Ireland, human occupation of this place goes way back. For about 600 years, starting in the 300s, the Rock of Cashel was the seat of the Kings of Muenster. In the 900s, the Rock was lost to the O’Brien clan. In 1101 they handed it over to the church as a way to gain favor with the religious leaders. Over the years, there was building and re-building going on. In the 1100s, a church was built. The only thing left from those times is the round tower.
I’m not 100% positive, but I think most of what we saw today was what is left of the cathedral built in the 1200s along with other buildings from the same era. There isn’t a lot of signage about what exactly you’re seeing on the grounds, so we just wandered around and took pictures.
The building that is part of the entry area (where you pass through the wall and onto the Rock) was once used as the Hall of the Vicar’s Chorale – It is the only reconstructed space on the Rock. It was originally the home of 8 members of the choir for the cathedral. I guess it was quite a privileged gig to have in the 1300’s. There is a bit of historical display inside, then you step out into the ruins.
In 1647 during the Irish Confederate Wars, the Rock of Cashel was sacked by the English troops. At least 1,000 people died in that battle. The English troopes looted and destroyed most of the religious artifacts there. However, the cathedral itself wasn’t destroyed at that time and was in use for another 100 years.
In 1749 the Archbishop of Cashel made the decision to remove the roof and sealed the fate of the Rock of Cashel. What is left there now is mostly ruins, although there is on ongoing effort to preserve what’s left.
My main thoughts were about how the people who chose to be buried in the graveyard or in the church proper probably could have never imagined that the cathedral wouldn’t stand for ages –and that their final resting place would be in the middle of ruins.
There was an area where they’d put up scaffolding because they are trying to restore a mural. On the left is what the mural should look like. On the right is what it looks like now. They have a lot of work to do!
In the time of The Reformation during the mid-1500s the murals were whitewashed and remained covered until the 1980’s. I think there’s a chapel that we missed (somehow) that is more intact and restored than the rest of the Rock and there may have had some restored murals inside, but the one we saw is outside in the ruins.
As has been par for the course on this whirlwind trip, we didn’t have time to explore the village of Cashel. We had a bit more driving to do to reach Kilkenny and wanted to be there in time for dinner. So, we “eased on down the road.”
Categories: The Rock of Cashel