Rock of Cashel 6-19
Set on a dramatic outcrop of limestone in the Golden Vale, the Rock of Cashel, iconic in its historic significance, possesses the most impressive cluster of medieval buildings in Ireland. Among the monuments to be found there is a round tower, a high cross, a Romanesque chapel, a Gothic cathedral, an abbey, the Hall of the Vicars Choral and a fifteenth-century Tower House.
Originally the seat of the kings of Munster, according to legend St. Patrick himself came here to convert King Aenghus to Christianity. Brian Boru was crowned High King at Cashel in 978 and made it his capital.
In 1101 the site was granted to the church and Cashel swiftly rose to prominence as one of the most significant centers of ecclesiastical power in the country.
The surviving buildings are remarkable. Cormac’s Chapel, for example, contains the only surviving Romanesque frescoes in Ireland.
We stayed in a B&B that was at the edge of town in sight of the promontory and next to the ruins of an old abbey. Cashel is also where Guinness was born:
Back in the 1740s a land steward named Richard Guinis worked here for the then Archbishop of Cashel, Arthur Price. The Archbishop had a hobby, brewing ale, and to that end he had about 25 feet of hops planted in the garden behind the palace. The brewing took place in the cellar, where the bar is now located. On the 17th of August 1740 Richard was messing around with the brew and roasted the hops into the mash instead of the barley and by doing so created a darker beer. Everyone on staff loved it, dubbing it “The Wine of Ireland” so the Archbishop and Richard took out a patent on it. The Archbishop named it after Richard, spelling his name the way we recognize it today; Guinness. The recipe was passed on to Richard’s son, Arthur, who went on to open up the now iconic brewery at St. James’s Gate in Dublin and the rest, as they say, is history.