Town in County Tipperary, Republic of Ireland; population (2002) 2,400. Cashel is one of the most important historic sites in Ireland. The town is dominated by the Rock of Cashel (60 m/200 ft), on which are the remains of the 12th-century Cormac's Chapel, a round tower, and the ruins of a 13th-century cathedral.
The Rock of Cashel, also known as St Patrick's Rock, was the seat of the kings of Munster from the 4th to the 12th century. St Patrick baptized King Aengus here in 450 and Cashel was the site of a number of coronations; the coronation stone is reputed to be the base of St Patrick's Cross, a decorated Irish cross now located in the restored 15th-century Hall of the Vicars Choral, which also houses a museum. (A replica cross stands on the site of its original location in the grounds of the cathedral.) Cormac's Chapel has two towers, a barrel vault, and a number of carvings and murals dating from the 12th century. The round tower (28 m/92 ft high) appears to predate Cormac's Chapel. Nothing remains of the original cathedral, which was founded in 1169; the adjacent sandstone and limestone cathedral and associated chapels and residential buildings, tombs, and monuments are remains that date from the 13th century.
At the base of the rock are the 15th-century ruins of a Dominican friary founded in 1243. In Cashel is the Cistercian Hole Abbey, founded in 1266, and Quirke's Castle, a 15th-century tower located on Main Street.
The Protestant archbishopric in Cashel was abolished in 1839 and the Catholic diocese is now united with Waterford and Lismore. Ecclesiastical ruins in the town include a Dominican friary and a Cistercian abbey. The 18th-century Protestant deanery on the main street is now a hotel.
Features include Longfield House, 8 km/5 mi north of Cashel, which was once the home of transport entrepreneur Charles Bianconi; the G P A Bolton Library, which contains 10,000 volumes of antiquatian books and is housed in a 19th century Chapter house; Rossa Pottery, one of the oldest independent potteries in Ireland; and the Brú Boru Heritage Centre, which includes a folk theatre and a genealogy suite and is home to the Brú Boru traditional music group and dancers. Leaders of the 1848 Rising are said to have frequently met in a house known as Alla Eileen off the Main Street.
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