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Cashel Castle Ireland

Cashel Castle Ireland (Known places)

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Cashel (Irish: Caiseal Mumhan, meaning Stone Fortress of Munster) is a town in County Tipperary, in the southern midlands of Ireland, which is also the episcopal see of a Roman Catholic archbishopric (though the cathedral is in Thurles) and of an Anglican bishop (who is also bishop of Ossory and as such resides in Kilkenny). Population 2,936.

The town is just off the M8 route from Dublin to Cork. Cashel is particularly renowned for the Rock of Cashel, a site hosting a ruined church and fortifications, formerly the seat of the Irish kings of Munster. The town was once a notorious bottleneck on the N8 Dublin-Cork route, but was bypassed in 2004 (15 years ago).

History

The Rock of Cashel, to which the town below owes its origin, is an isolated elevation of stratified limestone, rising abruptly from a broad and fertile plain, called the Golden Vale. The top of this eminence is crowned by a group of remarkable ruins. This ancient metropolis has lost its importance and of its population fell under 3,000. Originally known as Fairy Hill, or Sid-Druim, the "Rock" was, in pagan times, the dun, or castle, of the ancient Eoghnacht Chiefs of Munster. In Gaelic Caiseal denotes a circular stone fort and is the name of other places in Ireland. The "Book of Rights" suggests that the name is derived from Cais-il, i.e. "tribute stone", because the Munster tribes paid tribute on the Rock. Here Corc, the grandfather of Aengus Mac Natfraich, erected a fort, and Cashel subsequently became the capital of Munster. Like Tara and Armagh it was a celebrated court, and at the time of St. Patrick claimed supremacy over all the royal duns of the province, when Aengus ruled as King of Cashel.

In the 4th century, the Eóganachta dynasty founded their capital on and around the rock. In the times following, the kings of Munster reigned here. Saint Patrick is believed to have baptized Cashel's third king, Aengus, though it is more likely to have been Palladius. In 977 the Dál gCais usurper, Brian Boru, was crowned here as the first non-Eóghanacht king of Cashel and Munster in over five hundred years. In 1101 (918 years ago) his great-grandson, King Muircheartach Ua Briain, gave the place to the bishop of Limerick, which also denied it forever to the MacCarthys, the senior branch of the Eóganachta. The bishops had a very famous school in Cashel and sent priests all over the continent, especially to Regensburg in Germany, where they had their own monastery, called Scots Monastery.

At the Synod of Cashel in 1172 (847 years ago) the Irish bishops agreed to the lordship of Henry II of England over Ireland, in line with the policy of Pope Alexander III.

In 1647 (372 years ago), during the Irish Confederate Wars, Cashel was stormed and sacked by English Parliamentarian troops under Murrough O'Brien, 1st Earl of Inchiquin. Over 1,000 Irish Catholic soldiers and civilians, including several prominent clerics, were killed in the attack and ensuing massacre.

Sights and miscellanea

The Rock of Cashel is now one of Ireland's most popular tourist sites. The town has many other interesting attractions, including the GPA Bolton Library (which houses many books found nowhere else in the world).

The Heritage Centre & Tourist Office on Main Street (admission free) displays a model of Cashel in the 1640 (379 years ago) and a multimedia presentation in several languages, and sells Tipperary crafts.

The Charters granted by the kings Charles II Stuart (1663, 356 years ago) and James II Stuart (1687, 332 years ago) are on display in the Heritage Centre.

Walking is the best way to discover the Heritage Town of Cashel, the Georgian St. John's Cathedral (which replaced that on the Rock in the eighteenth century) and its adjacent Bolton Library, city walls, and the former Deanery or archbishop's palace which is now a leading hotel.


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