Leaving Cashel’s market town behind, you climb uphill imagining yourself as friend or foe? For more than 1,000 years the Rock was a symbol of royal and religious power; the seat of Eóganacht Kings of Munster until rivalries saw Brian Boru, future High King of Ireland, take over in the 10th century. It was later granted to the Church and used even after 17th-century sacking by Cromwellian troops.
Exploring solo or listening to the lively narrations of a guide, you move on to Cormac’s Chapel, an outstanding 12th-century Romanesque creation named after its kingly builder. In the Gothic cathedral a wall tomb prompts tales of a notorious archbishop named Miler Magrath.
You can no longer climb the 28m (92ft) Round Tower, which dates from the early 12th century, but views over the lush countryside are nevertheless superb.