Tuesday, March 17, 2009

St. Patrick and the Rock of Cashel

Was it really a year ago when my feet met the old sod. One of the places we visited was the Rock of Cashel. The legendary origin of the Rock of Cashel dates back to approximately 432 AD. Now a market town, Cashel was once a center of royal and religious power. According to legend, St. Patrick arrived in Cashel in AD 432 and baptized King Aengus, who became Ireland’s first Christian ruler. During the baptism, the devil hurriedly flew over Ireland and, hindered by the Slieve Bloom Mountains, the flying fiend took an enormous bite out of the stony peaks. After he reached the opposite side of the mountains, the devil spat out his mountainous mouthful and inadvertently formed the Rock of Cashel. The legendary origin of the Rock of Cashel, then, also explains the gap (known as the Devil’s Bite) in the Slieve Bloom Mountains, which can be seen to the north of the rock.
Besides tales explaining the legendary origin of the Rock of Cashel, other stories exist that link this location to the emergence of the shamrock as an Irish symbol. According to legend, during the baptism, St. Patrick plucked a shamrock to explain the mystery of the Trinity and so gave Christian Ireland a powerful new emblem.

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