Guide to Ireland's Rock of Cashel and Hore Abbey
The Rock of Cashel and Hore Abbey are magnificent, medieval ruins that are located just 1.5 kms apart in Tipperary County, Ireland. A treasured national monument, the Rock of Cashel sits on hill overlooking Hore Abbey. Our guide to the Rock of Cashel and Hore Abbey has all the information you will need to visit these archeological wonders.
The Rock of Cashel complex (aka St. Patrick’s Rock of Cashel) spans a 1600-year period. Over the centuries, the site has served as an important defensive and ecclesiastic center. Today, the Rock of Cashel is known for its remarkable collection of Celtic art and medieval architecture. It is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Ireland.
In contrast, the ruins of Hore Abbey reside in the middle of a humble cow pasture. The building’s crumbling stones and flocks of crows give it an eirey, otherworldly feel. Walking the site, the height and breath of the walls reminds visitors that this was once a thriving Cistercian monastery.
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POINTS OF INTEREST
The Rock of Cashel
The Rock of Cashel (cashel meaning “ringfort”) first gained prominence as a royal fortress for the King of Munster in the 4th century. The hilltop site is reported to be where St. Patrick converted the King to Christianity. The compound later served as the region’s bishop seat.
The fortress was brutally attacked by British Cromwellian forces in 1647. The assault resulted in the massacre of over 1000 people as well as the extensive looting, torching, and defacing of its buildings.
Today, the archeological attraction features several structures for touring as well as a graveyard that is the oldest active cemetery in Ireland (people continued to be buried here). From the graveyard there are exceptional views of the surrounding valley, and the nearby ruins of Hore Abby.
In the shadow of the Rock of Cashel sit the remains of Hore Abby. Unlike its neighbor on the hill, Hore Abbey is brilliantly unassuming. With a small carpark sitting at the edge of a private field, the path to the ruins is strewn with cow dung.
The name ‘Hore’ is said to be derived from the word ‘iubhair,’ which means yew tree. The abbey served as a Benedictine, and then Cistercian monastery in the 13th to 15th century. The limestone complex consisted of a Gothic church, square cloister, tower, and residential quarters.
Town of Cashel
Cashel is a small town of about 4,000-plus people in Tipperary County, Ireland. The picturesque village has several shops, restaurants, and churches to explore. The Town of Cashel is about 500 meters from the Rock of Cashel and 750 meters from Hore Abbey.
TRAVEL TIPS & THINGS TO KNOW
Rock of Cashel:
By Car: Drive to St. Partrick’s Rock of Cashel, Cashel, County Tipperary, E25 KX44. There is a car park on the hill leading to the site (about 6 Euros per car per day).
By Bus: Take the X8 to Cashel and walk to Dublin Road (about 500m from the center of town)
By Train: Take the train to Thules, and arrange private transportation to Cashel.
By Car: Drive to Hore Abbey, Cashel, County Tipperary, E25 KX44. There is a small car park (no charge) and plaque at the entrance to the gate in front of the Abbey. There is no admission booth or formal entrance.
By Bus or Train: See Above
Admission and Hours
Rock of Cashel: There is a ticket booth at the site’s entry. A small admission is charged. Tickets can be purchased onsite or online. In the summer months the site can get quite crowded so it is wise to purchase tickets ahead. The attraction is open year-round. Hours change seasonally so check the site.
Hore Abbey: No admission charge. No set hours (be aware there are no facilities/electricity onsite).
Weather/Terrain: At both sites you will spend a large part of the visit outdoors. Have rain gear available as well as sturdy shoes for walking over slippery rocks and pastureland. The Rock of Cashel sits on a hill, and the wind and fog can make it feel colder. At Hore Abbey watch out for cow dung.
Rock of Cashel: For a charge, there are general tours, tours of Cormac Chapel, and audio guides available.
Hore Abbey: No audio or in-person guides available. Visitors tour on their own.
Facilities and Restrooms
Cashel Rock: There is no food or drink sold onsite. There are NO restrooms onsite. Restrooms are located by the car park (a short distance from the entrance to the site).
Hore Abbey: There are no facilities or restrooms available.
ONE DAY ITINERARY ROCK OF CASHEL AND HORE ABBEY
1. Start your day at Hore Abbey. Plan to spend about 30 minutes here. Park in the small car park and walk through the gate. Take the path through the cow pasture to the ruins of the abbey. To your left, on the hill, you will have a clear view of the Rock of Cashel. Wander the ruins at your own pace. Enjoy the cows, crows, and phenomenal scenery. Take some photos and enjoy the quiet.
2. Drive the 1.5km from Hore Abbey to the Rock of Cashel. Park in the carpark (charge) or the street if you can find a spot (free). Use the restrooms if you need to – there are none onsite. Walk up the hill and purchase (or show) tickets.
3. Visitors can choose from a general guided tour (about 45 minutes), a guided tour of Cormac’s Chapel (about 20 minutes), or a self-guided audio-tour. TIP: We recommend a self-guided audio-tour combined with a guided tour of Cormac’s Chapel. Plan on about a 1.5 hour visit to wander the site, take photos, see the audio-visual show, and tour museum.
4. While navigating around the site be careful of the uneven terrain and broken headstones. Also, you are asked not to sit or climb on any headstones, monuments, or objects at the site.
5. On your visit don’t miss:
The Tower House: The former residence of the Archbishop of Cashel (1400s to 1700s)
St. Patrick’s Cathedral: A cruciform Gothic Church built between 1240 and 1270.
Graveyard: The oldest active cemetery in Ireland. From the cemetery enjoy spectacular views of the surrounding valleys and Hore Abbey.
The Round Tower: The oldest surviving building onsite (completed in 1101). Served as an ecclesiastic belltower.
Cormac’s Chapel: The chapel (built 1127-1134) is one of Ireland’s most precious historical buildings. The chapel is a blend of Irish-Roman-European styles and is painted with frescos of great cultural significance.
Hall of Vicar’s Choral: Cleric residence and dormitory.
6. Walk from the Rock of Cashel to the town of Cashel. To finish your day, meander the main street and side roads to sample its shops, craft stores, and restaurants.
Hope you enjoyed reading about these evocative ruins, Laura and Randy
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