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THE WORLD AROUND US Rock of Cashel - Seat of the Kings of Munster, Ireland (In Gaelic)    
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Today’s The World Around Us will be presented in Gaelic and English, with subtitles in Arabic, Aulacese (Vietnamese), Chinese, English, French, Gaelic, German, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Mongolian, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Thai.

Greetings, Earth-loving viewers and welcome to today’s The World Around Us. Atop a hill in peaceful southern Ireland, there rests an ancient fort and legendary cathedral: the Rock of Cashel, also known as the Cashel of the Kings or Saint Patrick’s Rock. Located in the province of Munster, the Rock of Cashel was the traditional residence of early kings. Irish tour guide Mr. Seamus McCahey kindly introduces us to the Rock of Cashel and brings alive an Irish history that dates back 2,000 years.

The first king to have been crowned here was a man called Conall Corc, and that was back in the year 370 AD, and he was a member of the Eóganachta tribe. And they really dominated the Kingdom of Munster for a few centuries. You can be fairly sure that it [Rock of Cashel] was probably being used for other, maybe ceremonial, important purposes before that.

Then, it emerged really as the capital of Munster, and it could well have been really to do with the old boundaries at the time. Here in the middle of County Tipperary, you’re not really too far from the other provinces. You do have a very good view, of course, surrounding the site here as well, and that was always an important consideration when it would come down to selecting a place that people would have to look up to, a place that they would have respect for.

In 1101, Muirchertach Ua Briain, King of Munster and grandson of the High King of Ireland, gave the Rock of Cashel to the Christian church. Before then, the Rock of Cashel had already been associated with Saint Patrick. Legend has it that Saint Patrick banished Satan who took a bite of a mountain 30 kilometers north. A piece of that fell from Satan’s mouth to become the Rock of Cashel. Historically, Saint Patrick did indeed visit the Rock of Cashel around the year 450 and met King Óengus, the grandson of the first king of Munster.

Óengus was said to have been the first king to be baptized in the Christian faith here. Patrick came here as a missionary and persuaded him to come into the new faith. They held the ceremony, a baptism, somewhere up here on the grounds. If you could baptize the leader, there was a good chance the people would come into the same faith as well. So, it’s because of his visit that the site was eventually dedicated to him when it became a religious one. There’s Saint Ailbe from Emly, he is also associated with here. Some historians actually credit him with bringing Christianity here as well.

The interesting history of the Rock of Cashel is vividly reflected in its astonishing architecture. These include the Round Tower, the Chapel of King Cormac or Cormac’s Chapel, and the grand cathedral known as the Saint Patrick Cathedral. The Round Tower is 28 meters high with 6 floors, and is one of the best preserved buildings.

Of the buildings standing here today, the earliest is the Round Tower. It’s reckoned it dates from the early 12th century. It was something that was always quite prominent on the landscape. In those days, a building that had a degree of prestige attached to it, and our own one here, would have been used on-site as a bell tower.

Visitors today enter the site through the Hall of the Vicars Choral. It is another of the site’s masterpieces built in the 15th century, next to the Tower. The decoration of this hall features excellent wood artistry.

Well, we’re here now in the “Hall of The Vicars Choral,” as it’s known, the home to the choir here back in medieval times. There was, up to that time, a choir present here on the site, appointed by the Archbishop to deputize for the clergy here on the grounds. They’ve… got a balcony or gallery there.

And there are very good examples of the skill really of the carpenters here with the woodwork. The carvings on the woodwork, the gallery, as well at the Western end of the hall. The roof as well here, the ceiling, if you like, above our heads, which is based on that of Dunsoghly Castle in County Dublin. The roof on that building has survived since medieval times and is used as an example for these kinds of buildings.

And around the room here as well, you have examples of the kind of furnishings that would have been here at the time. The large dining table is at the back of the room, gives you a good idea of the kind of things that would’ve been here. And the white-washed walls gave you a bit of extra brightness.

The tapestry behind me dates, they reckon, from around about the 1600s. The scene on it depicts the Queen of Sheba arriving at the kingdom of King Solomon. And the tapestry was probably made in Flanders around that time. If they could afford it, they would have a tapestry hanging, because it brought a bit of life and color to the room. And it’s also said that if you had enough of them hanging around the walls, it could be a good extra layer of insulation as well.

Looking west from the choir, the elegant interior of the cathedral meets our eyes. The cross-shaped cathedral uniquely has no aisle. It is also currently a roofless cathedral, with prayers ultimately reaching the bright sky. Perhaps the most stunning features are the transepts, each with three beautiful lancet windows. Each transept is attached with two chapels at either side.

In the 13th century, the large Gothic Cathedral was built. By then the site was established as home to an archbishop, and they, those positions, were created round about the middle of the 12th century. You have the 12th-century Round Tower; the chapel, as well, from roughly three decades later; cathedral, then, which dominates the site today from the 13th century, and because it developed as the site of an archbishop. That’s why the cathedral was built here at that time. When that was built, it was known as Saint Patrick’s Cathedral as well. So, there is that strong connection still here with him today.

Cormac’s Chapel is one of the most important buildings on-site. This magnificent building is known for its stylish, sophisticated structure.

The other building would be Cormac’s Chapel, built in the late 1120s into the early 1130s, and it’s known as King Cormac’s Chapel. Cormac was king of Munster at that time, and it was quite common for men in his position to help out the church, to be sponsors of them. And the Romanesque church, that’s the style of it, the style of the time. And today thankfully, it’s one of the best preserved Romanesque churches in the country.

The interior of the Cormac Chapel is also decorated with breathtaking designs. People enjoy the magnificence of the Romanesque features.

It’s regarded as the best example of a preserved intact Romanesque church from that period. The Romanesque, of course, just simply means the semi-circular rounded arches, and they’re a feature of the exterior and the interior of the building as well. The chapel has a stone roof and that was probably the biggest factor in its preservation now for the best part of nine centuries in keeping it intact. It’s also a building that probably has influences from outside Ireland as well. Because in those days, a king like Cormac, it wasn’t unusual for him to go on pilgrimage abroad and he’d bring back ideas with him of what he had seen. He’d also perhaps bring back craftsmen as well, stonemasons, who could work on the structures..

Finally, let us take a look at the treasure of ancient artifacts in the Rock of Cashel’s museum.

Just on this side of the case, you have a couple of interesting items that relate to the 12th century. You have the Cashel Crosier here which was discovered in the 1860s here on the site itself. The original was made in Limoges in France, and it was probably something that was used by maybe a Bishop, here on the site in the 12th century, maybe one of the Kings of Munster as well, in the early 1100s as well.

And just beside it then, you have the Cashel Bell. It’s a good example of the tongue-less hang bell that would have been utilized in the round tower. They’d ring the bell from there; it would resonate then around the site. That was the call then to Mass or to a ceremony.

Just over here as well, on the far wall, you have from a slightly earlier period, the tomb panel, with the knights there carved out on it. You have the knights underneath the Gothic arches here. The title there, “Elephant and Castle,” above it. It could be associated with Pope Leo X It is quite nicely carved out. You have the depiction here of the elephant itself; the elaborate castle on its back. And then, on top of the castle, for good measure, you have the carving here of the griffin as well, the half eagle, half lion – a kind of mythical creature – on top.

Here, one can also appreciate the original Saint Patrick’s Cross, a symbol of reverence. It originally stood outside until 1987 when it was moved indoors for protection.

Just beside it then, you have the carving of Saint Matthew and Saint John. These probably could’ve been part of an altar here on site. Again, back in medieval times, the Evangelist [Saint John], the apostles who wrote the Gospels were all depicted. For example, Saint John depicted as the eagle, Saint Matthew there as the angel, and then just on the oppose side of the museum on the wall there, you have Saint Mark the lion, and then Saint Luke the bull there as well.

The well-preserved Rock of Cashel is a special part of Ireland’s magnificent heritage. May it continue to be an awe-inspiring bridge between a rich past and appreciative present.

Thank you beautiful viewers for accompanying us on today’s The World Around Us. Please stay tuned to Supreme Master Television for Words of Wisdom, right after Noteworthy News. Wishing you blessings of peace and love.
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