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01 The Rock of Cashel, Scones and Kitty O’Toole

February 22, 2006

Episode Guide – Podcast #01 The Rock of Cashel, Scones & Kitty O’Toole

Our first podcast takes you to the Rock of Cashel where we give you tips to make the best of your visit, suggest some off the beaten path destinations nearby, share Liam’s family scone recipe and listen to Liam’s rendition of the song Kitty O’Toole. CLICK THE PLAY BUTTON below to listen.

Our Podcasts are availble on iTunes

Episode Notes

Making the most of your visit to the Rock of Cashel:

  • Vicar’s Choral
  • Video Presentation
  • Museum
  • Cathedral – architectural elements – Bishop MacGrath
  • Graveyard – O’Skully Monument
  • Cormac’s Chapel – fresco and carved heads

Sites we recommend nearby:

  • Hore Abbey
  • Athassel Priory
  • Celtic Plantarum
  • Holycross Abbey

The Knockahopple Irish Fireside Cookbook

Irish Fireside Song

  • Kitty O’Toole, The Lily of Sweet Tipperary

The Rock of Cashel Overview

Considered one of the most important historical sites in Ireland, “The Rock” has been modestly called Ireland’s Acropolis. Built on a commanding spot 200ft/60m above the surrounding countryside, the view of walled cathedral, chapel and round tower dominates the Tipperary landscape.

A Short History

The Rock of Cashel served as a fortification for the High Kings of Munster as early as the 4th century. It was here that St. Patrick performed the legendary baptism of King Aenghus in the 5th century and made Cashel a bishopric. In the 10th century, Brian Boru united the four provinces and crowned himself High King of Ireland at Cashel.

In the 11th century, King Muircheartach O’Brien gave the site to the Church and construction on the chapel and round tower began. Cashel flourished as a religious center and the Cathedral was built in the 13th century. In 1647, Cromwell’s army overtook Cashel and burned the cathedral killing the 3,000 Irish seeking refuge inside.

a.k.a. St. Patrick’s Rock, Cashel of the Kings, The Rock

Hore Abbey

Built in the shadow of the Rock of Cashel, Hore Abbey was founded by the Benedictines in the 13th century and later given to the Cistercians. Local lore says that Archbishop McCarville displaced the Benedictines after having a dream they were plotting to kill him. Historians suggest the transition was more a matter of politics…the Archbishop was, afterall, a Cistercian himself. He also had a reputation for favoring his Irish congregation over English loyalist and for “interfering” with established methods of commerce in Cashel.

The abbey was dissolved in 1540 and by 1550 it was being used as a parish church with several parts of the abbey functioning as a private housing complex. Its unornamented design is typical of Cistercian architecture. However, it is the only abbey in Ireland with its cloister placed to the north, a decision that may have been influenced the immediate presence of the Rock of Cashel to the north.

Hore Abbey can be reached on foot from the Rock of Cashel or by car via the Dundrum Road and will require climbing a gate. The site is self-guided, open until sunset and free.

Athassel Priory

Located in the village of Golden between Cashel and Tipperary town, this 12th century Augustinian priory is believed to have been the largest medieval priory in Ireland before it burned in 1447. Significant remnants of the massive complex are still in tact including the ancient arched bridge, gate house and several other structures.

Be on the look out for the face that projects from the southwest corner of the chapel tower, about 30 feet off the ground. Athassel is not a common tourist destination, so there is no car park (just pull to the side of the road) and entrance will require climbing at least one style (steps built in to the wall) and it is self-guided, open until sunset and free.

Celtic Plantarum

Attached to the nursury in the village of Dunrdum is the Celtic Plantarum. Two miles of groomed paths are accented with reproductions of ancient ogham stones, crannogs, mass rocks and standing stones. Garden lovers will truly appreciate this destination, and it can even be appreciated on an overcast day. The site is free and self-guided.

Holy Cross Abbey

Founded in the 12th century, Holy Cross Abbey was a popular pilgrimage site because it housed a relic of the true cross. To avoid closure admidst Henry the VIII’s Act of Suppression in the 16th century, the Cistercian abbot at Holy Cross resigned his post and the abbey was classified a provostry. This made it a less likely target for closure, but this proved to only be a temporary solution. By the middle of the 17th century, the abbey was in ruin.

A local effort to restore the abbey took place between 1971 and 1985 and completely revived the historic structure. It now serves as a parish church and a dramatic example of community-based restoration at its best.

Seeing the structure today, it is difficult to believe this building dates back to the same period as the ruins at Athassel and parts of the Rock of Cashel. One only needs to see photos showing the abbey prior to the 1970s to realize the amount of work that went into restoration.

The site is free and self-guided, and a giftshop and visitor center is housed on site.

Some podcast music courtesy of

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