It’s next to impossible to take a picture in or around the town of Cashel without the Rock photo-bombing into the background (the Rock in question being the 60-metre high mound of limestone covered in monastic buildings and not ex-pro wrestler and film actor Dwayne Johnson).
And while there are plenty of other alluring things to Cashel, such as its fortified townhouses, beautiful Georgian cathedral, spacious central plaza, intriguing Bolton library and charming Victorian town centre, it is the Rock that is the real draw to this south Tipperary town.
The history of the Rock is quite interesting, having apparently started life as part of a cave in which Satan was squatting at the nearby Devil’s Bit. Legend has it that the Rock ended up being cast out by accident at the same time St Patrick was evicting the Dark One for rent arrears. Landing at its present spot in Cashel, it soon became the traditional seat of the kings of Munster before changing hands in 1101 when the Church took over.
Their tenure saw the construction of so many wonderful buildings on top of it that it soon became one of the finest examples of medieval architecture in Europe. Now, while there may have been some medieval architectural traditionalists who thought building a cathedral beside a chapel beside a 28-metre-tall round tower, not to mention the castle, might have been a bit OTT, several hundred years later it seems to have worked. For when the Rock of Cashel is not half-covered with scaffolding, it is one of the most stunning tourist sites in the country, perched high above the town where it commands spectacular views over the surrounding Tipperary countryside.