Cashel: The Rock as a Royal Residence, Cathedral, Chapel, Round Tower, Abbeys, &c - Book of County Tipperary, 1889

About “The Book of County Tipperary,” 1889

George Henry Bassett produced 7 Irish county directories in the 1880s: Antrim, Armagh, Down, Kilkenny, Louth, Tipperary and Wexford. Each provides useful history of the respective counties as well as lists of office holders, farmers, traders, and other residents of the individual cities, towns and villages.

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The directories are naturally an invaluable resource for those tracing family history. The Book of County Tipperary is the first of these to be made available on libraryireland.com, with its own search page. However, there are a few points to bear in mind.

  1. This online version is designed primarily as a genealogical research tool and therefore the numerous advertisements in the original book, many full page, and quite a few illustrated, have been excluded.
  2. The text has been proofed with due care, but with large bodies of text typographical errors are inevitably bound to occur.
  3. Be aware that there were often inconsistencies in spelling surnames in the 19th century and also that many forenames are abbreviated in Bassett’s directories.

With respect to the last point, surnames which today begin with the “Mc” prefix, for example, were often formerly spelt as “M‘,”. For a list of some of the more common forename abbreviations used in the directory, see Forename Abbreviations.

To enjoy the rich variety of advertisements, confirm accuracy of the entries, or have a printed record of a family member, obtain an original or facsimile copy of The Book of County Tipperary.

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To the outside world the Rock is the feature of interest at Cashel before which everything else in the way of antiquity sinks to the level of insignificance. It consists of a mass of limestone, rising to a height of 300 feet, surrounded by a wall at the top, from which, in clear weather, a view of seven counties is afforded. A considerable portion of the space at the summit is occupied by remains of ancient buildings, including a cathedral, episcopal palace and chapel. A round tower, 54 feet high, with walls 4 feet in thickness, and perfect conical cap, stands close to the northern transept of the cathedral. There are holes and windows indicating that it had been originally divided into five storeys. A great celtic cross, with a representation of the crucifixion, sculptured in relief, is so elevated from the tomb of the Scully family (Dionisius, Catherine and Vincent) as to share attention with the antiques. There is a large grave-yard terminating at this point, but its use is now confined to the Scullys and other families that have established rights of burial. A part of the Rock, with a deep surface of rich loam, is in grass, and proves sufficient for fattening ten sheep in summer.

Down to the end of the eleventh century the Rock of Cashel had been used only as the fortified residence of the King of Munster for the time being. In the Annals of Innisfallen it is stated that Murtagh O’Brien, in 1101, at an assembly of the bishops, clergy and people, made a grant of it for religious purposes. There is a confusion of records in regard to the erection of Cormac’s Chapel, an architectural achievement, of its date, without a rival in Ireland. It is attributed to Cormac MacCulinan, King and Bishop of Cashel, killed in 908, and to Cormac MacCarthy, King of Desmond. In the Annals of Innisfallen, the latter-named king is said to have built it in 1127, and that consecration took place by the archbishop and bishops of Munster, nobility, gentry, etc., in 1134. Donald More O’Brien, King of Limerick, built a church on the site of the present cathedral in 1169, and increased the endowments of the see. The cathedral was cruciform, with large seating capacity. A tower, in the centre, rests on pointed arches of great height. There are also side towers, all of which have stone stairs in good repair. The nave, transepts and chancel are grass-covered, with a walk in the middle of each.

The Earl of Kildare, Lord Deputy, in 1495, set fire to the cathedral, to punish Archbishop Creaghe, who was supposed to have identified himself with the feuds of the barons at that time. See page 13.

The Rock of Cashel, with all its belongings, was taken over by the Board of Works under the Act for the preservation of national monuments, and repairs and restorations, at a cost of between £4,000 and £5,000, were completed in July, 1876. Mr. Thomas N. Deane, was the architect, and Mr. George Read, clerk of works. A comfortable limestone cottage was built by the Board of Works on the slope up which the roadway runs. This is occupied in summer by ex-sergeant Roger Fogarty, who has held the post of caretaker since 1877.

The abbeys of Cashel were three in number. Of these the Dominican was founded in 1243, by Archbishop MacKelly, but was accidentally burned. Archbishop Cantwell rebuilt it in the fifteenth century. The Franciscan Abbey was founded by Archbishop Hackett in 1250. Hore Abbey occupies a site in the parish of the same name within a short distance of the Rock. The remains, including a tower in the centre, are quite extensive. It was founded for the Benedictines, but Archbishop MacCarville, about the year 1270, made a re-grant of the abbey and possessions to the Cistercians, who held it till the dissolution.

Book of County Tipperary

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