The Rock of Cashel


The Devil’s Bit is the mountain 20 miles (30 km) north of Cashel when St. Patrick banished Satan from a cave.

The Rock of Cashel was the seat of the kings of Munster for several hundred years before the Norman invasion.

In 1101, the King of Munster, Muirchertach Ua Briain, donated his fortress to the Church. Most of buildings on the current site date from the 12th and 13th centuries.

Cormac’s Chapel was begun in 1127 and consecrated in 1134. It is a very sophisticated structure, unlike most Irish Romanesque churches, which are ordinarily simple in plan with isolated decorated features. The Irish Abbot of Regensburg, Dirmicius of Regensburg, sent two of his carpenters to help in the work. Other notable features of the building include interior and exterior arcading, a barrel-vaulted roof, a carved tympanum over both doorways, the magnificent north doorway and chancel arch. It contains one of the best preserved Irish frescoes from this time period.

The Cathedral, built between 1235 and 1270, is an aisleless cruciform with a central tower and terminating westwards in a massive residential castle.

In 1647, during the Irish Confederate Wars, Cashel was sacked by English Parliamentarian troops under Murrough O’Brien, 1st Earl of Inchiquin. The Irish Confederate troops there were massacred, as were the Roman Catholic clergy.

In 1749 the main cathedral roof was removed by Arthur Price, the Anglican Archbishop of Cashel. Today, what remains of the Rock of Cashel has become a tourist attraction.

Queen Elizabeth II visited the Rock of Cashel during her 2011 visit to Ireland. It was said to be a venue she particularly wished to visit.

The entire plateau on which the buildings and graveyard lie is walled. The extensive graveyard includes a number of high crosses.