After leaving Cork, we started on our way back to Dublin along the M8 but we made one final stop at the Rock of Cashel.
About an hour down the motorway from Cork, and very easy to find once you turn off, the Rock of Cashel and Cashel itself were definitely worth the detour. As usual on our off-season trip there were very few tourists but the Rock itself was closed and had scaffolding up on one side. We still decided to walk around this impressive structure perched on the top of its hill. A fun, sheep accompanied walk gave us a good impression of all the vistas and the crows always circling gave it an appropriately Middle-earth feel. It has a mythology of its own though: St Patrick is thought to have converted the King of Munster here in the 5th century and the Rock is meant to be a fractured and ejected part of the Devil’s Bit, a mountain 20kms from Cashel, which landed here as collateral damage caused when St Patrick banished Satan from a cave there. It was still a shame that at this time of year we couldn’t see inside its 11th to 12th century buildings.
In fact, it seemed like the whole of Cashel was spring cleaning, repainting shopfronts, planting flowers and just generally preparing for the season. Cashel was still very cute and can boast two fine establishments. There is the Michelin recommended Chez Hans restaurant, which you have to book -we hadn’t, right by the Rock itself; it also has a sandwich and tea shop a bit further down the same road. There is also the Cashel Palace Hotel, imposing in its Queen Ann styled building with views on the Rock; a nice place to stay in or have tea or cocktails on their lawn but eat at Hans – hungry as we were, and without a reservation at Hans, we still decided not to eat there (underground restaurant with vaulted ceiling).
So with only one real option left, we drove thru the Golden Arches, for a rewarding Big Mac meal with real Sprite for the driver (no Z rubbish) and the sunset over Cashel and its Rock. An hour and 40 mins later we were back in Dublin having driven on wicked driving road and having seen the awesome Atlantic, Killarney’s lakes and more castles in the last 4 days than I’ve seen in 10 years; not a bad first road trip across the Emerald Isle!