Friday, 2 March 2012

Kilkenny to Kinsale

Today we headed straight for Cashel Rock in the village of Cashel. This impressive fortified Castle stands perched on a large rocky outcrop above the village. More formally known as St Patrick's Rock, it is also known as Cashel of Kings. Long before the Norman invasion The rock of Cashel was the seat of the High Kings of Munster. Most of the buildings on the site date from the 12th & 13th centuries

Rock of Cashel
Celtic Cross in the grounds of the Rock of Cashel, Cashel, Co. Tipperary

Rock of Cashel, Co. Tipperary

The Rock of Cashel, Co. Tipperary
The Entrance to the Rock of Cashel
Posters of visit by Queen Elizabeth II to Cashel Rock

The impenetrable walls of the Rock of Cashel

Rock of Cashel, Cashel, Co. Tipperary

Cashel Town
From the castle you can also get great views to Hore Abbey below & vice versa.   Founded in 1272, it was the last Cistercian foundation [a Catholic religious order of enclosed monks and nuns] in Ireland.   Most of the Abbey was built in the 13th century, with changes to the building made in the 15th century.

Hove Abbey, Cashel
From here we drove onto the medieval Cahir Castle via a quick detour through Tipperary, I'm ashamed to say, just to get a photo of us standing in front of a Tipperary sign!   [Sad but true].

Cahir Castle like so many castles which have had a community built up around it, dominates the heart of the village.  It is most famous for it's use in the films "Excaliber" & "Tristan & Isolde".  It was originally built by Conor O'Brien, Prince of Thomond in 1142 but the origins of the castle are traced back to the 3rd century when a Dun [earthen fort] was built upon this rocky island in the middle of the River Suir.

Cahir Castle

The Swiss Cottage, Cahir
Just on the outskirts of Cahir, we stopped to view the thatched roof Swiss Cottage on the banks of the River Suir, a walk of about 200 metres down a steep incline from the designated car park.  To our disappointment, we found it to be locked, but two local Council workers directed us up a flight of chunky stone steps which were signposted ‘private’.  At the top we got a good look through a large iron gate and got some nice photos of this ornate cottage.  It's reportedly, a fine example of  a "Cottage Ornee" or ornamental house, popular with the gentry during the nineteenth century, where they could entertain guests.  Apparently inspired by nature, it was built around the early 1800's & this is evident in the external woodwork which resembles branched trees.  Well worth searching out on your way through Cahir.  If you visit between April & October, you should find it open.

Kinsale, Co. Cork
From Cahir it was a fairly straight drive all the way to Kinsale, a idyllic little seaside village with brightly coloured shops & very narrow streets, famous for the 'Battle of Kinsale' during the beginning of the 1600's, the ultimate battle in England's conquest of Gaelic Ireland.  The result of the Battle of Kinsale was devastating to Irish culture & way of life as the old Gaelic system was finally broken.  Kinsale harbour is guarded by a star-shaped fortress Charles Fort, built in the 17th century.  After a walk around the town, we chilled out or should I say 'warmed up' with hot soup & brown bread at the Lemon Leaf Cafe on Main Street.
The Lemon Leaf Cafe, Kinsale

 I loved this wee cafe, with it's country decor & cozy couch by the window, where we sat out of the cold for over an hour making use of their free WiFi to check on our emails.

Our accommodation was at the Ashgrove B&B on the hill overlooking Kinsale where we had a small twin room & an even smaller shower. This however, was compensated by the lovely welcome we received from our host Margaret & the hot drink & scones she gave us in the cozy lounge, on our arrival.


  1. I'm trying to weave Rock of Cashel into my schedule...really want to see it.

    1. It really is a must to put on your itinerary. This castle is colossal & well worth a visit.