The Rock of Cashel & Hore Abbey are the Heritage Sites to See in Tipperary
Barreling down “acute bends” on our way to The Rock of Cashel and Hore Abbey in Ireland we pass field upon field of grazing cows and sheep and a few car-chasing dogs. The lanes are shady with trees meeting in the middle of the road and nerves of steel are highly recommended. It is actually very quiet today, we hazard a guess that since Tipperary (known around these parts as Tipp) won the big hurling match that there is many a folk nursing massive hangovers. They were up against Kilkenny and I don’t think there was a house in Tipp that didn’t have banners, flags and signs supporting Tipp for the win. They are very passionate about Hurling, in fact that is probably an understatement these days.
In Irish Gaelic Tipperary translates as – Tiobraid Árann (“House of the Well of Ara”). Which is a reference to the river, but no-ones knows the significance of the actual well which is in Lattin (a little Village not the ancient language).
The views in Tipperary are spectacular, the Golden Vale is at the heart of the County and there are countless sheep and cows, not to mention the fact that this is home to some of the world’s most famous racing horses. The ‘Golden Vale’ extends from east Limerick and across south Tipperary and north Cork. Its rich grasslands are the focus for the most extensive dairy farming activity in Ireland. Tipperary also has some of the best pork raised in the country, rashers, bacon, gammon and dry cured hams compete with fine organic turkeys, lamb and mutton.
Many roads here don’t have actual names they are simply signposted as the R505 or the R6901, Google maps has been a lifesaver unfortunately there are still many areas with no wifi so sometimes the signal dies. We have also found that many ruins are not signed you simply screech off the road you are on in search of the ruin you spot in the distance.
The Rock of Cashel and Hore Abbey
Not so with The Rock of Cashel and Hore Abbey. The Rock rises up out of the landscape as you approach it placed high on top of limestone outcrops where it oversees the fertile landscape of Tipperary. Resolute stonewalls circle a round tower, a 13th-century Gothic cathedral and an exceptional 12th-century Romanesque chapel containing some of Ireland’s oldest frescoes.
The word ‘cashel’ is an English version of the Irish word caiseal, meaning ‘fortress’. The Rock of Cashel is said to be the ancient royal site of the kings of Munster. In 370, King Corc built a castle on what had been known as the “Fairy Ridge” and established a capital there. It was around 448 when St. Patrick came to Cashel to baptize King Aengus. Tradition has it that Patrick accidentally pierced the king’s foot with his staff during the ceremony. The King, thinking this was part of the ceremony, remained silent and stoic. In 1101, the Rock was gifted to the religious of Ireland by Muircheartach O’ Brian, ostensibly to keep it from ever falling back into the hands of his opposition, the McCarthys. Here’s a great tip, have lunch or breakfast in the Village of Cashel and if you spend more than $15 euros you can get a coupon to enter The Rock at no charge.
Hore Abbey, of which there is a magnificent view from The Rock, was founded in the 1270’s by an order of Benedictines. It is hauntingly beautiful placed in a meadow directly opposite the Rock, Hore is also known as St. Mary’s as it was dedicated to the Saint. The Abbey gets its name from the Irish translation of An Mainistir Liath (grey abbey). The name also refers to the colour of the Cistercian habit, which was a similar shade to that of hoar frost. Much of the Abbey was destroyed by Cromwell’s’ forces in the 17th Century. The Abbey is immensely peaceful and its nooks, crannies and the odd gravestone have a gentle appeal. It seems that not many tourists trudge over to see the Abbey as it is markedly less overrun, just watch your feet as the field is used for grazing cattle.
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