McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

Features

November 6, 2011

Joy of Travel: Visiting the Rock of Cashel at Ireland

McALESTER — On day four of our trip to Ireland we departed Dublin and headed out for the Rock of Cashel, which turned out to be one of the most stunning, impressive historical sites I’ve ever experienced.

As we drove across the flat, fertile plain of the River Suir in the heart of the old province of Munster, the massive Rock of Cashel (aka St. Patrick’s Rock) rose up in front of us. It’s been documented as making a breathtaking impression here for over 1,600 years.

Beginning back in the fifth century, it was the seat of the Kings of Munster, whose kingdom extended over southern Ireland. Conall Corc was the founder of the Cashel Kingship. St. Patrick himself is said to have baptized the son of Conall Corc (Nio Froich) at Cashel.

The Kings of Munster were all part of the Eoganacht dynasty. Munster kings were often also bishops, and had no moral dilemma raiding and pillaging church properties in other territories.

In 1101, Muircheartach Ua Briain, King of Cashel and contender for the high kingship of Ireland, handed the Rock of Cashel over to the church. It became the seat of the archbishop. It flourished as a religious center until a siege by a Cromwellian army in 1647 culminated in the massacre of its 3,000 occupants.

In 1647, Murrough O’Brien and the garrison of the Confederate Catholic Troops stormed Cashel on behalf of the English Parliament. The clerics along with the townspeople hid within the walls of the cathedral. They were slaughtered. In fact, all of the passages, even the altars, chapels, sacristies, bell-tower steps and seats were so thickly covered with corpses, one could not walk without stepping on a dead body. Cromwell arrived and made his headquarters there for a time.

The round tower on the rock dates back to 1101. The entrance to this tower is about 10 feet off of the ground. There were two reasons for this. First, a door at the base of such a massive stone tower would have weakened the strength and stability of its foundation. Second, a door 10 feet off the ground enabled the area inhabitants to climb inside the tower via a ladder, then haul up the ladder and seal the entrance. This provided safety from invaders.

We went inside a small chapel where I noticed something that surprised me. Frescoes. Cormac’s Chapel, built in the new Romanesque style, was consecrated in 1134 and decorated with frescoes. Cromwell’s army did as much damage to the inside of the chapel as they could, so few frescoes remain. They even carved their names into the rock walls of the chapel with their knives, quite legibly I might add.

In between the tower and the chapel are the remains of a massive 13th century gothic cathedral. Oddly enough there are residential towers at its west end, which were the domestic quarters of the archbishop. The entire west end of the cathedral is blocked from the sun by this residential structure, making the interior of the cathedral dark and cold during the afternoon hours.

There are a huge variety of stone carved heads used on capitals, label stops and corbels both inside and outside the building. It is assumed they represent some of the people living in the area during the construction years 1230-1290. There are many grave slabs, including the tomb of Milar Magrath.

In 1571, Queen Elizabeth appointed Miler Magrath as Archbishop of Cashel. Miler, previously a Catholic priest, had renounced his faith, married (twice) and fathered almost 100 children (many illegitimate). On his deathbed he converted back to Catholicism.

On the very edge of the massive rock there is a 15th century row of buildings that were home to the Vicars Choral. These have been completely restored and now house a museum and the gift shop, as well as a room for audio-visual presentations. A 12th century St. Patrick’s Cross is housed in the museum. A replica of this cross stands in between the Vicars Choral housing and the cathedral. It is said if you can stand and wrap your arms around it and grasp your hands together, while standing on one leg, you’ll be married within the year.

The Rock of Cashel afforded us a view for miles of gorgeous green fields, woodlands and homes. The village of Cashel offers a few great restaurants and overnight accommodations.

We were all mesmerized by the history, massive structures and incredible views from the Rock of Cashel. If you are ever in Ireland, don’t miss visiting it.

Joy Gawf-Crutchfield is the owner of The Joy of Travel travel agency. For more information visit www.thejoyoftravel.us or contact her at joy@joyoftravel.us or 888-JOY-4041 (888-569-4041).

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Features
  • 7-10-ducks.jpg PAWS: Happy Easter

    As I was growing up, it seemed that Easter was always a time for giving a cute little furry animal as a gift. We seem to associate this holiday with bunnies and chicks, and of course, kitties and puppies.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Fairly Snotty McAlester livestock report

    On Tuesday, 1,200 head of cattle were sold at the McAlester Union Stockyards. Steers sold $2 to $9 higher than at the last sale and heifers sold $4 to $8 higher.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Low blood-sugar levels make for grousing spouses

    Husbands and wives reported being most unhappy with their spouses when their blood-sugar levels were lowest, usually at night, according to research released this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Missing a meal, dieting or just being hungry may be the reason, researchers said.

    April 18, 2014

  • treadmill-very-fast.jpg Tax deduction for a gym membership?

    April marks another tax season when millions of Americans will deduct expenses related to home ownership, children and education from their annual tax bill. These deductions exist because of their perceived value to society; they encourage behaviors that keep the wheels of the economy turning. So why shouldn't the tax code be revised to reward preventive health?

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • David Cantrell OSU Extension: Cattle tips for spring

    As we continue to move into spring here in Pittsburg County and cattle prices are at an all-time high, here are a few basic management tips to ensure herd health and productivity of the herd.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • RICHARDSON 50 1.jpg Richardsons celebrate 50 years of marriage

    Haileyville High School graduates Jim and Connie Richardson, of rural Claremore, will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary Saturday.

    April 15, 2014 2 Photos

  • MHS Student Painters MHS Student Paintings

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pet of the Week Pet of the Week

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Book Sale Book Sale

    April 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • Miss Teen McAlester Miss Teen McAlester

    April 9, 2014 1 Photo

Seasonal Content
AP Video
Raw: More Than 100,000 Gather for Easter Sunday Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest
NDN Video
Jabari Parker's Top 5 Plays From Duke Career Kourtney Kardashian Is a Bikini Babe More Manpower Than Ever Expected At 4/20 Rally Debunk'd: Miley Cyrus AIDS, Cheeseburgers Cause Cancer, Military Warning Bill Previewing the NBA playoffs Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite My name is Cocaine Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Lohan Gets Candid About Her Sex List The 2014 New York Auto Show Meet Johnny Manziel's New Girlfriend Chelsea Clinton Announces Pregnancy Funny: Celebrating Easter with Martha Stewart and Friends Man Accuses 'X-Men' Director Bryan Singer of Sexually Abusing Him As a Teenager Man hit with $525 federal fine after he doesn't pay for soda refill Lea Michele & Naya Rivera Feuding? Jabari Parker declares for the NBA draft Singing Nun Belts Out Cyndi Lauper New West, Texas Explosion Video Swim Daily, Throwback Thursday
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.