The Rock of Cashel, located in Cashel, Ireland is a cluster of ancient and medieval buildings. Most of the buildings on the site go back to ancient Irish times when Ireland was divided into various kingdoms. One of these rulers was the Kingdom of Munster. The Munster kings held their courts here, and the Rock of Cashel was their traditional seat for a long time. Following the start of the Norman Invasion, the King donated his castle to the Irish Church. Since it was literally the high seat of a kingdom, there are a lot of monuments on the site going back to their time. Especially, Cormac’s Chapel is one of the most impressive Romanesque castles in Ireland.
The name of Cormac’s Chapel on the Rock of Cashel comes from Cormac Mac Cárthaigh, the king of Munster who ordered the construction. The chapel is unique because it is one of the earliest examples of Romanesque tradition which arrived in Ireland in the 12th century.
Another impressive aspect of the chapel is the fact that it fused various elements from different traditions. In the chapel, it is possible to see traces of Romanesque architecture with native Irish elements. Moreover, Cormac’s Chapel is home to some of the most detailed and well-preserved royal frescoes in Ireland as well. However, since the chapel was made of sandstone, the stones soaked up water for centuries which in return damaged some of the interior frescoes.
In order to renovate them, the Irish government enclosed the whole area of frescoes with water-proof structures. This process allowed people to visit the chapel and look at the frescoes more freely. In 2011, even the late Queen Elizabeth II visited the Rock and the Chapel during her visit to the country. Today, the Rock of Cashel and Cormac’s Chapel are still some of the most popular medieval sites in Ireland.