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Rock of Cashel
Treasures of Ireland:
The Rock of Cashel
(Dispatch #5)

Story and photos by Tom Weber

Big Mike, Insight Vacations' Ireland tour director

ccording to Big Mike, our solid-as-a-rock tour director/concierge/storyteller, "When traveling down to the southern counties of Ireland, a man's wardrobe should include plenty of tweed."

Looking sharp in a matching hand-loomed, hurley tweed waistcoat (vest) and jacket, our self-proclaimed Liam Neeson-lookalike leads the intrepid "band of merry media" – 18 travel writers and photographers invited by Insight Vacations (Insight) to sample a portion of its Treasures of Ireland journey – up the steep path to one the Emerald Isle's most frequented heritage sites: The Rock of Cashel.

The Rock of Cashel

In fine Irish fashion, David, one of the curators at the small museum, greets us with another 100-thousand welcomes – Céad mile fáilte! – then quickly takes us back to the fifth century, the starting point of his primer about the site.

museum curator David at a stone replica of the Cross of St. Patrick

"It was here on this spot," David states while fronting a stone replica of the Cross of St. Patrick, "that Ireland's patron saint converted the pagan King of Munster to Christianity back in 450 AD." He adds, "For this reason, the Rock of Cashel, meaning castle, is also referred to as the Rock of Kings and St. Patrick's Rock."

undulating pastures of Tipperary viewed from the Rock of Cashel

Sitting atop an outcrop of limestone, the Rock of Cashel is an impressive collection of medieval buildings that overlooks part of the Golden Vale, Ireland's prized dairy farming area that stretches across three counties: Cork, Limerick and, from our vantage point, the undulating pastures of Tipperary.

As David points out, these ruins include a 12th-century round tower, a high cross, a Romanesque chapel, a 15th century castle, the Hall of Vicars – where laymen and sometimes minor canons, appointed to assist in chanting the various religious services, were housed – and a 13th-century Gothic cathedral named in honor of St. Patrick.

Before letting us meander about on our own, David provides us with several grim footnotes about this historic site as he concludes his open-air lecture.

"Over the centuries, the cathedral and castle survived quite a few attacks," he intones, "but, in 1647, during the Irish Confederate Wars, Oliver Cromwell's English Parliamentary forces sacked most of the Rock of Cashel complex, massacring nearly 1,000 Irish men, women and children inside St. Patrick's Cathedral, and stealing the majority of the priceless religious artifacts."

the Rock of Cashel complex

With a bit more daylight to burn before we depart this solemn place, I remove the lens cap and frame away.

sign pointing to the Tipperary Heritage Way

Joining Big Mike for the walk back down the lane – part of the Tipperary Heritage Way – towards the parking lot and the awaiting Insight motor coach, I admire his traditional Irish threads up close and ask, "Do you think I could score some tweed in a 36-short?" Looking down at me sympathetically from his lofty 6'2" frame, Big Mike smiles and replies, "Ah Tom, to be sure. To be sure."

Insight Vacations brochure

For complete information on Insight's 100+ premium and luxury-escorted journeys around Europe, including the Treasures of Ireland itinerary, just click HERE, or call toll free 1-888-680-1241, or contact your travel agent.

See you in just a bit when we'll roll through the Golden Vale – where contented cows graze, butter churns and cheddar ages – and make our way to Killarney, the Emerald Isle's most tourist-friendly town, for some haute cuisine along High Street prepped by a celebrity chef.

Related Articles:
The Kilkenny Way; A Donnybrook of a Feast; Dublin and the Book of Kells; Treasures of Ireland: Prologue; The Long Good Bye to Ireland

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Let Tom know what you think about his traveling adventure.

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Feedback for Destination Bosnia: Inside Sarajevo's Tunnel of Hope

Spent time in Sarajevo in the fall of 1973…beer was excellent!

--- David

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Hi Tom,

I must say, you're photographs are always amazing. They are top notch. You bring so much class to Traveling Boy. It's photographs like yours that make me want to go out and do my own traveling. Please don't get tired of sending us your amazing adventures. It's such a delight for the soul.

--- Raoul, Whittier, CA

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Hi Tom:

I'm also an American living in Italy. I've read with interest your blog and articles. I'd like to speak with you regarding residency and citizenship for Americans in Italy as you do seem to have a great deal of knowledge on all of these subjects. Would it be possible to give you a call on the phone? If so, please let me know how to reach you. If not, I can ask my questions via email.

Thank you!

--- David

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Hey Tom – Wow! Love those photos – they are so super that they make me A) Want to start eating NOW. B) Go there myself. C) See all that pristine beauty that looks so restful and peaceful. Great story, superb pix!!! Bravo!!

--- John, Los Angeles, CA

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Feedback for Destination Southwestern France: Saint-Émilion

Good job, Tom, and timely info. St. Émilion is in the list of places Jim Hayes and I will visit in September 2014. If we get the chance, we will exploit your experience to enhance the trip!

--- Bobby Harper, Dameron, MD

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Feedback for Vicenza Walks – Monte Berico

I lived in Vicenza for 4 years in the U.S. ARMY from 1963 to 1967. A wonderful place to explore. Palladio’s works are amazing. Have been back twice since and find new places to visit. My favorite is MONTE BERICO where I have some wonderful photos of my family.

--- Dr. Albert Pizzi, Hanover, MA

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I liked the new TB particularly the Vicenza article that took me back as a youth when we lived in Naples and travelled up there for a baseball tourney (U.S. Military Bases dependent schools played each other.)

Took me back to the plaza.

--- Bill

Feedback for A Canterbury Trail (Sutri)

Very interesting note. I have wedroned which route the early pre-Christian and Christian pilgrims travelled to Rome from England. Is it still possible to travel the Francigena trail?

--- Pawel

You can find out more info on walking tours of Via Francigena at this site: Thanks for stopping by and commenting..


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Good article, enjoyed reading it. Saved your recommended sights for future use.

--- Dardenne Prairie, MO

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You're going to be great at this Tom. Congrats.

--- Donna Vissa -Montreal

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