The Legend of the Rock of Cashel

If you have ever been down at our Cashel hostel you will be familiar with the Rock of Cashel. No matter which direction you approach from it sticks out on the landscape. There is a strange story about how exactly it came to be there and in typical An Óige fashion, the legend of the rock of Cashel is a good one.


It all started in the old days before the saints arrived. Back then Ireland was a pagan hotspot. The people were not fond of others telling them who to worship, especially not new religions from far flung desert countries where it never rained. The whole world and his dog back then knew that Ireland was the gateway to Hell at the time. It was the end of the known world and had a network of caves guarded by fallen angels which the Devil used as a shortcut between Hell and Earth.

The only people who went to Ireland in those days were serious individuals who wanted to pick a fight with the devil. Most people were glad to see them go. They were too fundamental for the sophisticates of Rome and they gave the desert fathers a headache with their carry on. Chasing the devil on a far flung island kept them occupied.

st patrick

One of the fellows who ended up in Ireland around this time was a fellow by the name of Patrick. Some say he came from Wales. Some say he came from France. Wherever he came from he was one of these types that was on a mission. With a traumatic past, a voices-in-the-head-experience and a one-track mind, he would not rest until Ireland was the godliest country in the world. That meant getting rid of the the druids and hunting down the devil.

While he found the druids easy, the devil was a slippery character and he evaded him for a long time. Eventually Patrick was approached by an old man from Templemore who told him that the the mountains of Tipperary had a mighty stink coming out of them that could only be the brimstone boy.

Patrick, being the spiritual warrior that he was, decided to corner the devil, as you do. The old man made Patrick bring along a young drummer boy for protection.They made their way to the cave in the mountain and sure enough there was a great stink of rotten sulphur about the place, worse than a hikers socks in a hostel. Inside was the devil, plotting his evil plan to plunge Europe into the Dark Ages and invent pop music.

There were snakes too. Two big monstrous slimy snakes that hissed like the head of Medusa and attacked Patrick. The first he did some early medieval karate moves on and dashed its head against the cave wall. The second didn’t hang around. It slithered out of the cave with its tail between its non existent legs and left the island. On its way it told all the other snakes to get out of the country because it was no longer safe here. And that is why there are no snakes in Ireland. But that is another story.

st patrick and the snakes

Now the devil knew that Patrick was a powerful foe. He put up an invisible barrier that he used to hide behind in the cave. Patrick could not get through to him at all. Suddenly the drummer boy starts to rap out a little beat on his drum, real gentle like. Patrick picks up the rhythm and starts to recite the Breastplate which is his strongest prayer, all about binding the power of God into him.

This and the beating of the drum enraged the devil and he made a dash for it out of the cave. Although he has the best tunes, the devil is obviously no match for traditional Irish musical collaborations. Patrick sees his chance and takes chase, the two of them flying about the hills and valleys of Tipperary in an epic battle. At one stage Patrick grabbed the devil by the tail but he had to let go because it burned like the fires of Hell.


The devil was eager to get away from Patrick and in fear that he would be finally cornered he bit a chunk out of the mountains and made good his escape through the gap. Patrick could do no more this time and he returned to the drummer to thank him and went back to converting the rest of the Irish. Meanwhile, the devil was not a happy camper at being made a show of, so he spat out the rock from his mouth and it landed in the middle of the plains of Tipperary. Later on, Patrick will use that rock to convert an Irish King but that is another story too.

So, if you ever make it to Tipperary, see for yourself the gap in the mountain called the Devil’s Bit and ask yourself if it is not the exact same size as the Rock of Cashel. That is the legend of the Rock of Cashel.

If you fancy finding out more about The Rock of Cashel, come and visit our Cashel Holiday Hostel and you get free admission to the monument!

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