Rock of Cashel Monastic Settlement




N 52° 31' 11.58"   W 007° 53' 26.64"

Nearest town


Grid Ref.

S 07415 40951

Map No.


Elevation a.s.l. (m)


Date of visit

Saturday 9 June 2018

GPS Accuracy (m)

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Approaching the Rock of Cashel from the southeast.

It's been 24 years since the last time we came to the Rock of Cashel. It was July 3rd, 1994 when we first visited this amazing site!

This time we were there very early in the morning and we were more than lucky, because there were very few tourists, and we had a free entry ticket!

The term Rock of Cashel refers to the big rocky outcrop north of the town of Cashel, and by extension to the group of buildings on the Rock itself.
The site is also known as St. Patrick's Rock, likely because it is said that St. Patrick baptized Oengus Mac Nad Fróich, of the Eóganachta clan, the first Christian king of Munster in the 5th century, on the Rock of Cashel.

The complex of buildings is unique in Europe and is of outstanding beauty. It includes a Chapel, a Cathedral, a Castle and a Round Tower, all clustered together so that they may look like a single elaborate huge building.
The whole complex is surrounded by a stone oval enclosure and the north part of the area between the enclosure and the buildings has been used as a graveyard until 1980's.

One of the most important buildings is the Cormac's Chapel, the chapel of the king Cormac Mac Carthaigh, built between 1127 and 1134. Its main features are the two square towers on either side of the nave. This chapel underwent a heavy and very long work of conservation that had the church wrapped in scaffoldings for many years. This was the reason why we waited so long before returning to this site.

The largest building of all is the Cathedral, built between 1235 and 1270, with a long east section, a short nave, two transepts with side chapels, and a central tower that was added in the 14th century. The access is through a Gothic doorway in the south wall of the west section. At the west end of the Cathedral is a massive tower house built at the beginning of the 15th century. The building of the castle was the reason for reducing the size of the nave of the Cathedral and for moving the doorway to its south wall.
Several carved slabs and chest tombs can be seen in the chancel and in the north transept. The effigy of Miler McGrath, Protestant Archbishop of Cashel from 1571 to 1622, can be seen in the south wall of the chancel.

Southwest from the Cathedral is a replica of the St. Patrick's Cross, the original being preserved in the vaulted room at the Visitors' Centre, the building that once was the Hall of the Vicars Choral.

The Round Tower at the north of the Cathedral is the oldest building of the complex, dating from about 1100. It is 28 metres tall and has a round-headed doorway on the southeast side at about 3.5 metres from the ground.

From a window on the west side of the enclosure wall it is possible to see Hore Abbey down in the valley.

Rock of Cashel appears as one of the locations in the movie "Excalibur" (1981) by John Boorman. It's seen as a silhouette at night, from the northwest, as the convent where Guenevere, wife of Arthur, had retreated as a nun (see movie at time 1:56:52 to 1:57:00).

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