The Golden Vale in Co Tipperary has some of the best pastures in Europe. From this luscious, sweet, green, flat carpet rises up an impenetrable fortress.
For over 1,000 years The Rock of Cashel boldly stood as a symbol of power and high faith, today it towers over the valleys as a testament to ancient Irish history.
|The Rock of Cashel can be viewed for miles around|
The song does not lie – it certainly is a long way to Tipperary from the North West of Ireland. I was starting to question my destination for a weekend away just before The Rock came into view. The actual Rock on which the Carraig Phádraig (formerally St Patrick's Rock) is built on looks so harsh in this pretty setting. It looks dangerous, something out of a fairytale – a location which must be conquered to free the princess. But that is what makes it all the more important.
|The impressive round tower dominates the Rock (c) fifiheavey|
The Rock of Cashel took our attention on entrance and exit of the historic town, but we saved it as the last thing to do on our weekend away. As we took in the delights of Dundrum Manor House Hotel and fine dined our way around the town of Cashel, the rock loomed over, beckoning us.
Closed on Saturday, despite the decent crowd of foreign tourists peering in the locked gates, we waited until Sunday to brave the cold and the wind on top of the craggy top.
|Perfect day for discovering The Rock (c) fifiheavey|
The site of the conversion of Aenghus King of Munster by St Patrick in the 5th century, the Rock boasts the original St Patrick's cross. Which does not take the form of what we now use as the crucifixion cross. The Rock makes room for a beautifully intact round tower, the impressive Cromac's Chapel, the Hall of the Vicar's Choral and an audio visual theater as well as a large number of graves, many marked by glorious high crosses.
|One of the many of the High Crosses on top of Cashel (c) fifiheavey|
The stone carvings particularly took my interest, especially the symbols which can still be viewed on GAA and sporting crests today.
A visit to The Rock of Cashel comes much recommended, but make sure you avoid the parking fee. The car park beside the rock costs over €4 (all day) which is steep when really you will probably spend about 30 mins up at the rock (especially if it is gusty.) You can park in the town or further away from the rock for much cheaper and it is timed. Our admission was €6 each with 50c extra for a tourist map. I found the price a bit steep without any tour guide, but it was off season.
Make sure you have plenty of room in your tummy for some excellent food choices in Cashel. We really filled up on fine cuisine at Kearney's Castle Hotel and Bailey's Hotel. Oh and leave some room for Wonka Sweets!
|Make room for some delightful Wonka Sweets when in Cashel!|