Without question, I absolutely adore Ireland, the people and the beautiful landscape in so many shades of green dotted with castles everywhere won me over. As someone who grew up in Canada, the fact I could drive for a short amount of time and find another spectacular castle while in Ireland never got old, in truth searching for castles became part of my goal.
2 hours outside of Dublin, there is Rock of Cashel, also known as St. Patrick’s Rock or Cashel of the Kings, which is an ancient castle located in the small town of Tipperary. The castle gets its name “cashel” from the anglicized version of the Irish word for fortress, as the spot was the base of Eóghanachta clan from Wales in the 4th century who conquered much of the area and became kings of the area. Rock of Cashel served as a fortress up to the 11th century, until it was then used as a monastery instead.
While I visited the castle still had lots of scaffolding up as it was being restored on the front, and some of the interior spaces, despite that that it was still worth the visit to see the castle, which has some of it dating back to the 12 century, including the tower, chapel and St. Patrick’s Cross (pictured above).
Outside of Rock of Cashel, you can find a large number of celtic crosses in the cemetery directly outside.
Visiting this castle is a great stopping point, for example driving from Dublin to Killarney. There is parking at the base of the hill the castle is located, and it is worth noting that there are no washrooms at the castle or areas to get food or drink within the castle, but there is a small cafe next to the parking lot that you can use prior to visiting the castle.
I suggest allowing around 1 hour to see the castle if you wish to do the tour. In 2017 due to the restoration work taking place make sure to check ahead of time before visiting as at times there will be limited access to the castle.