Ecclesiastical Ruins at Cashel, County Tipperary

J. Stirling Coyne & N. P. Willis
c. 1841
Volume II, Chapter XIII-2 | Start of chapter

The view from the summit of the ruins of CASHEL is very extensive and beautiful. The county of Tipperary is spread out below—one beautiful variegated plain, richly cultivated, and bounded by the Galtee and other mountain ranges; while at the foot of the rocks the beautiful pleasure-grounds of the archbishop spread out in lawn, clumps, and shrubberies, like (to use Mr. Inglis's simile) a piece of mosaic-work.

Ancient tradition tells us "that Cashel was first pointed out to the herdsmen of Corc, King of Munster, by a heavenly messenger, who foretold the coming of St. Patrick, and that the king immediately erected a royal palace on the spot, now called Carrick-Phadring, or Patrick's Rock; and from receiving here the rent or revenue of his kingdom, it was called Ciosoil (since corrupted into Cashel)—cios signifying rent, and oil, a rock.

Ruins at Cashel

Ruins at Cashel from the South

"The remains of the old cathedral, which overlook the town, prove that it must have been a very extensive and beautiful Gothic structure, boldly towering on the celebrated rock of Cashel, and forming with it a magnificent object, bearing honourable testimony to the labour and ingenuity, as well as the piety and zeal, of its former inhabitants. It is seen at a great distance, and in many directions. The extent of the nave and choir, from east to west, is about two hundred feet, and the steeple is in the centre of the cross. Divine service continued to be performed in this venerable cathedral till 1752, when Archbishop Price unroofed the choir, and it was speedily converted into a ruin.

Archbishop Agar endeavoured to restore it to its pristine glory, but its dilapidated condition rendered the attempt fruitless, and a new cathedral was soon after erected. Near the east angle of the north aisle of the old cathedral is a round tower, from which to the church there is a subterraneous passage. This tower is supposed to be the oldest structure upon the rock of Cashel, from this circumstance, that all the erections upon the rock, which is limestone, are built of the same materials, except the tower, which is of freestone. It is fifty-four feet in circumference at the base, and the height of the door from the ground is eleven feet. It consists of five stories, each of which, from the projecting layers of stone, appears to have had its window. The stone on which the ancient kings of Munster were crowned still remains near this spot.