The Rock of Cashel

On Thursday afternoon, we visited the Rock of Cashel, one of the most historic sights in Ireland. It is famous for being the place where St. Patrick baptized King Aengus in about A.D. 450. An optional guided tour was included with the admission, which I decided to do and got to learn all about the Rock’s storied past. Apparently St. Patrick accidentally speared King Aengus in the foot with his crosier staff while administering the baptismal sacrament, but the pagan king stoically kept silent throughout the remainder of the ceremony, as he thought this was part of the process of becoming a Christian. The original St. Patrick’s cross is kept indoors in order to preserve it from weather erosion, but there is a replica outside in its original place. According to the tour guide, this is also the place where Guinness beer was really invented by a man who worked for the Archbishop of Cashel, not by Arthur Guinness in Dublin in 1759 as claimed by the Guinness company.

Many of the structures on the Rock have been badly damaged due to weather, the effects of time, or were destroyed by Oliver Cromwell’s army. However, the round tower, a type of structure unique to Ireland, is in remarkably good condition. Inside the chapel, there are the remains of frescoes from about 850 years ago. Frescoes are unusual in Ireland due to the climate, and unfortunately, these are in ruins due to them having been whitewashed during the Reformation period. There is also a group of heads above the altar, meant to represent each of the known human races at the time they were made. Outside, there is a graveyard full of Celtic crosses overlooking the Plain of Tipperary and the ruins of 13th-century Hore Abbey. It is considered a great honor to be buried on the Rock, but only a handful of people put on a waiting list in 1930 can still be buried here due to limited space.

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