The Rock of Cashel Castle, also known as Cashel of the Kings and St. Patrick’s Rock is one of Ireland’s most significant historical landmarks. (Irish: Carraig Phádraig [ˈcaɾˠəɟ ˈfˠaːd̪ˠɾˠəɟ])
This iconic landmark has been a symbol of Irish Heritage for over 1,600 years. Because of its historical significance it is listed as a National Monument of Ireland and is also on the tentative UNESCO list.
Located near the town of Cashel in County Tipperary in Ireland, the castle is situated on a 60-meter-high limestone outcrop in the Golden Vale, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside.
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The historic significance of the Rock of Cashel alone makes it a must-see addition to your Ireland travel itinerary!
Need help building your Itinerary? we visited the Rock of Cashel on a 2 week trip that included Ireland, Scotland AND England!
From 300-1000 A.D. the seat of the ancient Kings of Munster stood upon this hill. In the year 1101 the castle was handed over to the church. Today, the Rock of Cashel is managed by the Office of Public Works.
Brian Boru, St. Patrick, and their relationship with Cashel
A couple of very famous historical figures spent time on The Rock of Cashel.
Brian Boru (Middle Irish: Brian Bóruma mac Cennétig; modern Irish: Brian Bóramha)
Brian Buru was a legendary figure that lived from the late 10th to the early 11th century. He is known by many as the greatest High King (ardri) in Irish history and is credited with ending the Viking invasions of Ireland. Formerly the King of Munster, Brian Boru was crowned High King at Cashel in 978 and made it his capital.
*** Book recommendation: I highly recommend the book Lion of Ireland by Morgan Llywelyn The book is an inspiring account of Boru, that artfully intermingles history with legend. The author laces together Irish folklore and the “old religions” with one of the most inspiring real-life stories in Irish history. I have personally read the book 3 times over the years. The strength and courage of the heroic figure, Boru, is inspiring. Consider reading the Lion of Ireland before you visit the Rock to get a better understanding of its historical significance.
St. Patrick’s Day is ever cause for celebration but who was St. Patrick? Saint Patrick was born in Britain in the 5th century when it was under the Rule of the Roman Empire. At 16 he was kidnapped and brought to Ireland as a slave. He later escaped but returned to Ireland, bringing Christianity with him. St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland.
St. Patrick converted King Aenghus, the King of Munster, to Christianity here at the Rock of Cashel.
According to one legend, the rock was originally located in the Devil’s Bit, a nearby mountain. Saint Patrick banished Satan from a cave in the mountain, causing the rock to land in Cashel.
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Ruins, and why I love them!
I really LOVE historical ruins, and these are some of the most beautiful that I have ever seen! There is something haunting about them. They seem to retain the life they once had, blurring the lines between ancient history and modern day. It almost feels as if you could walk through one of these beautiful ornate arches and suddenly find yourself in ancient Ireland. Find a quiet corner and if you’re still enough, you may just be able to feel the presence of the people who walked these grounds so many years ago.
Although in ruin, the rock of Cashel Castle is still imposing and formidable. It isn’t hard to envision it in its full stately glory!
Rock of Cashel Castle complex
The Rock of Cashel is a remarkable collection of Celtic and medieval architecture and design that is unique and native to Ireland.
Sadly, through the centuries the ancient buildings have crumbled and disappeared. What you see here today are the remains of a medieval castle, a 12th-century Romanesque chapel and a 13th-century Gothic cathedral. The oldest (and tallest) of the remaining structures is the well-preserved round tower dating from c. 1100.
This map should help you get your bearings on the hill, although it would be hard to get lost up there!
Visitors are given the opportunity to explore the following:
The Tower House
The residential tower house was once the residence of the Archbishop of Cashel from the 1400’s until the early 1700’s. The south side of the building was destroyed during a storm in 1848.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral
The Gothic cathedral is particularly impressive with its intricate stone carvings and the hollow frames of windows that once contained beautiful stained-glass windows. The foundation of the cathedral is in the shape of a cross. You can explore the different areas of the beautiful cathedral ruins which includes a nave, north and south transept, choir area, and a porch.
During the ‘The siege of Cashel’ close to 1000 inhabitants and Irish Catholic Confederate soldiers were massacred in this building in 1647.
This graveyard is the oldest active graveyard in Ireland. When exploring the headstones and graves please be respectful of those who are buried here.
The early 12th century 28 meter tall Round Tower is the oldest surviving building on site. The tower was likely completed around 1101, the same year the site was gifted to the church. Round towers are unique in their shape and form to Ireland.
Cormac’s Chapel, considered one of Ireland’s finest examples of Romanesque architecture, was built between 1127-1134 by King-Bishop Cormac Mac Carthaig, making it the second oldest building on site.
The fragmented remains of the only surviving fresco paintings in Ireland are located in the chapel. It is believed that the fresco depicts The Magi, where Christ was gifted Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh by the Three Kings.
The chapel features beautifully carved doorways and intricate stonework and parts of the chapel have remained virtually unchanged for close to 900 years!
Note: Cormac’s Chapel can only be visited by guided tour (English only, written translations available upon request.) You’ll be given a specific tour time and instructed on where and when to meet.)
Hall of the Vicar’s Choral
Built in the 15th century, this is the youngest building in the complex. Don’t miss the restored kitchen.
Inside the museum you will find several artifacts including the original St. Patrick’s Cross.
information on visiting
Opening Hours (2023)
The Rock of Cashel is open to visitors every day of the year except: closed December 24-26
mid-March to mid-October: 9:00 am – 5:30 pm
mid-October to mid-March 9:00 am – 4:30 pm
Last admission: strictly 45 minutes prior to closing time.
Opening hours and tour times are subject to change. For the most current and up to date information see the official website.
Admission Fees (2023)
The fee includes access to all the buildings on the site. Discounts are available for students (children under the age of 12 get in free but still need a ticket), seniors, and groups of 10 or more people (pre booking required for groups.)
Check the official website for the most current and up to date information on admission fees.
Advance tickets (booking online)
Avoid long lines and possible disappointment by purchasing tickets online. If you are trying to book online and tickets are sold out for the day, I recommend showing up first thing in the morning to ensure entrance. (Tickets to tour Cormac’s Chapel cannot be booked online and are only available on site.)
45-minute guided tours provide visitors with a deeper understanding of the history and significance of the site. Knowledgeable and experienced guides can provide visitors with a wealth of information so do consider the guided tour.
Visitors are free to explore the complex on their own but keep in mind that you will need to take the guided tour if you want to tour Cormac’s Chapel. Booklets are available (for a small fee) to help navigate your way around the complex on a self-tour. Guides are available on site to answer questions.
audio-visual theatre: ‘Strongholds of the Faith’ is a 20-minute presentation on what was happening in Ireland when the buildings on the Rock of Cashel were being constructed between the 12th and 18th Centuries.
need to know information
Getting up to the castle
There is a short walk up a steep incline of about 200 meters from the parking lot to the complex entrance of the Rock of Cashel.
Bathrooms are located near the car park. These are the only toilets on site.
What to wear
Be aware that much of the complex is outdoors. Dress appropriately. Comfortable sturdy shoes are recommended, and the wind is frequently strong on the hill so a jacket might be in order.
What to bring
Ireland tends to be rainy so bring your rain gear.
crowd beating tips
The Rock of Cashel castle complex is one of Ireland’s most popular tourist attractions, and draws visitors from all over the world.
The general rule of thumb for avoiding the worst crowds at popular tourist attractions are:
- Visit early morning or late in the day (i.e., the first or last tour of the day)
- Weekdays are often less crowded than weekends.
- Travel in the shoulder or off season: Summer months are peak season / high season, spring and fall are considered shoulder seasons, and winter months are off season.
Can’t get to The Rock of Cashel just not but can’t wait to see it? The Office of Public Works has put together a very good virtual tour of The Rock of Cashel.
Getting to the Rock of Cashel Castle
- Cork (ORK) 100 km
- Shannon (SNN) 90 km
- Dublin (DUB) 200 km
- Waterford (WAT) 90 km
The Rock of Cashel is an easy day trip from several larger Irish cities:
- Cork (100 km)
- Cobh (100 km)
- Limerick (60 km)
- Kilkenny (60 km)
- Waterford (90 km)
- Dublin (200 km)
- Galway (160 km)
Address: Moor, Cashel, County Tipperary, Ireland
GPS coordinates: 52.520416581380466, -7.8903273639542375
There is a car park located down the hill from the Rock. Upon arrival, take a ticket at the machine to be admitted into the parking lot. You’ll need to pay at the pay station before returning to your car, and before you can leave the lot.
Don’t miss the sculpture near the parking area and the Bru Boru Cultural Center. “The Cashel Dancers” was commissioned in 1991 by Rowan Gillespie, creator of the Famine Statues in Dublin.
Seamlessly plan your train and bus travel with the Rome2Rio website or app.
Nearest train station: Thurles (21 km) from there you would need to take a taxi or a bus.
The closest bus stop is at Main Street in Cashel, an eight-minute walk.
If you are staying in staying in Dublin you can book a single day tour to the Rock of Cashel Castle through Get Your Guide. (Spanish tour available from Cork)
Where to stay
There are many places to stay in and around Cashel. My favorite place to search and book accommodations is Booking.com. When you’re ready, if you book through this link, I’ll make a small commission from your booking, which helps me fund this website!
Where to eat
My favorite place to search for the best places to eat is Tripadvisor. You get customer review ratings and lots of photos!
Here are some popular attractions in the area:
Hore Abbey is a ruined Cistercian monastery that dates back to the 13th century. Visitors can explore the remains of the church, cloister, and chapter house. The abbey is open year-round, and admission is free. Distance: Just a short walk downhill from the Rock of Cashel.
Cahir Castle, one of the largest castles in Ireland. Don’t judge this one by its unassuming cover. We really enjoyed this well-preserved 13th century castle! It has a rustic medieval hunting lodge feel. Distance: 20 km
The Swiss Cottage is a charming 19th-century cottage. Built in the style of a Swiss chalet, the cottage was originally used as a hunting lodge and summer residence. Visitors can tour the interior of the cottage, which is filled with period furnishings and decorations, and explore the surrounding gardens and woodland. Admission to the cottage is by guided tour only, and tickets can be purchased on-site. Distance: 21 km
Pro tip: There is a 2 km walking path that leads from Cahir Castle to the Swiss Cottage. If you can make the time in your schedule, consider adding it to your itinerary!
Mitchelstown Cave is a stunning limestone cave located in County Tipperary, Ireland. Distance: 17 km
Frequently Asked Questions
Is The Rock of Cashel worth it?
If you are interested in Irish history, architecture, things that are old & ancient, and ruins then yes, the Rock of Cashel is absolutely worth it!
Are pets allowed?
Assistance dogs only.
How long should I plan to spend at the Rock of Cashel?
Visitors can plan to spend around 1-2 hours exploring the Rock of Cashel Castle. That’s enough time to explore Hore Abbey too.
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