If you’re looking for a scenic drive from Dublin down to Cork, take your time and go through County Tipperary. The county is in the Munster province, southwest of Dublin, east of Limerick and northeast of Cork. There are many Celtic and medieval ruins that surround the vast landscape of mountains, rivers, lakes and farmland. We left Dublin in the morning and wanted to get to Cork by the mid-afternoon. We decided to visit two sites along the way, the Rock of Cashel and Cahir Castle.
Rock of Cashel
The Rock of Cashel is about an hour and 45-minute drive from Dublin. It was the traditional seat of the kings of Munster for several hundred years prior to the Norman invasion. Only ruins of the buildings from the 12th and 13th centuries remain today. Not only was there once a fortress on this “rock,” but there now stands a chapel attached to a cathedral.
Cormac’s Chapel was built in the late 1100’s and boast some amazing mosaic frescoes on the ceiling and walls. Due to the delicate condition of the frescoes, we were unable to take photographs of them. No picture would do them any justice. You’ll just have to go see for yourself!
You can see how the German carpenters left their mark on the chapel from the Western European architectural style used during construction.
If the weather permits, walk around the outside of the building through the cemetery. Reading the old headstones is a great excuse to wander in the sun and let time take you away. Also, by walking around the building you can see for miles on end in every direction.
Being high on a hill provides for breathtaking views of the surrounding land. We even found some ruins down the hill from the Rock of Cashel called Hore Abbey. We did not have a chance to visit this, but definitely fit it in before you leave the area.
We even walked down the hill a bit and wandered around the grounds. People bring their dogs there to run around and play, so it was fun to play with a few furry friends before we left.
If you have a long drive ahead of you, don’t worry because there’s a snack bar and restroom facilities for your convenience.
We were lucky to only drive about 20 minutes to get to our next destination, Cahir Castle.
A stone fortification or cathair, was originally built on the land where the Cahir Castle stands today, hence the name Cahir. The castle’s core structure was built in the late 12th century and is situated on a rocky island on the River Suir.
An additional part of the castle was constructed two centuries after the initial build. The castle was enlarged and remodeled between the 15th and 17th centuries. The castle fell into a state of disrepair in the 18th century, which resulted in some much-needed restoration.
The town of Cahir is absolutely adorable and quaint. It’s everything you would picture from a small, Irish town. There are many B&B’s, shops and restaurants to keep the tourists happy. Parking for the castle is easy and it’s only a short walk from parking to the castle.
We did a self-guided tour because the castle isn’t huge but do what makes you comfortable. They have a cool armor exhibit, not sure if it’s temporary, but try to visit all the rooms. Some are more restored than others and they are all worth a look. Also, take in some breathtaking views of the town and the River Suir on the upper floors.
Wear your walking shoes for sure and take some time to walk around the grounds, it’s most beautiful and tranquil. For a leisurely self-guided tour, it will take about 1 ½ – 2 hours.
After our tour of the castle we simply walked out onto the street to be met by many types of restaurants to have lunch. We were there during the week and the town wasn’t crowded. We found a little pub-like place while we rested our feet and filled our bellies. I’d have to say, the food was strange (white bread and brown gravy with meat), but I didn’t care at that point. We were starving after traveling several hours and visiting two amazing architectural wonders, that brown gravy meal and pint of beer did me good (I wasn’t driving).