Saturday, November 22, 2014

A Rock and A Stone

With a gorgeous day forecasted, we headed a little west over to Tipperary and as it turns out, it wasn't such a long way (those of you that know the song will find that humorous...maybe).  Tipperary County is the home of the Rock of Cashel -- our first stop of the day.

Similar to the Hill of Tara in it's significance in Irish history, the Rock of Cashel played an important role in the growth of Christianity in Ireland.  The Rock was the seat of ancient kings of Munster and it is where Saint Patrick baptized King Aengus around 450 AD.  There is a legend that when Saint Patrick baptized the king he was so preoccupied with the importance of the sacrament that he speared the king's foot with his staff.  As a pagan, the king thought the pain was part of becoming a Christian and didn't say anything.

In the 12th century, Murtagh O'Brien gave the Rock of Cashel to the Church so his rival clan could not regain possession.  To commemorate the 650th anniversary of Saint Patrick baptizing the king, a carving of Saint Patrick's Cross was made.  Over the years, the wind and rain took it's toll on the cross and it was moved inside the museum.  A replica now stands in it's place.

Restoration and preservation projects are taking place at The Rock.  One of particular interest is in Cormac's Chapel.  During the Reformation, the beautiful frescos inside the chapel were whitewashed as the Protestants considered them vain.  Frescos are very unusual in Ireland due to the moist climate so these were extra special.  The portion of the chapel where we were allowed to enter was climate controlled and you could see some of the progress being made on the restoration...the pictures do not do it justice.

The round tower dates back to around 1100 AD.  Looking at it, we could see very little mortar and were amazed it is still standing.  I am constantly amazed at the craftsmanship of buildings and structures from long ago when they were so limited without the conveniences we have today.  One would think with all the modern technology we have today we could build things to last for generations yet sadly they often times do not make it through one generation.


How can one come to Ireland and not make the journey to Blarney to kiss the stone and gain the gift of gab?  So off to Blarney we went...and thanks to Penny, we saw yet more of the back roads of Ireland!

Julie heads to the stone

And now it's my turn...a far reach for someone with T-Rex arms!

After winding our way down these steps, we stopped in a pub for a late lunch and then to the mills for a little shopping before heading back to the cottage.  Yet another fabulous day in Ireland!

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