Friday, December 14, 2012

Hore Abbey, Cashel, Co. Tipperary

Hore Abbey (also known as St. Mary's Abbey of the Rock) sits both literally and figuratively in the shadow of the mighty Rock of Cashel in County Tipperary. Although the Rock of Cashel is one of the most visited heritage sites in Ireland, very few spend the extra time on a short walk to visit the wonderful Abbey below.

The name Hore Abbey has a number of possible derivations - the first is that the name 'Hore' comes from 'iubhair' Gaelic for Yew Tree. Another theory suggests that the name refers to the dull grey coloured tunics that the monks wore.

Hore Abbey is a Cistercian monastery, and most of the visible remains date to the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. You can still see the well preserved remains of a refectory, a large church with nave, chancel, and transepts all in good condition. Each of the transepts has a small chapel, and you can see the remains of an archbishops tomb just north of the chancel.

The cloisters are in a very unusual position, usually the cloister is always positioned to the south of the church - however at Hore Abbey they are positioned to the north. Possibly because the Rock of Cashel is so prominent to the north, they wanted to maximise its impact.

 Local legend has it that the Abbey was given to the Cistercian order in 1270 AD, as the Archbishop of Cashel, MacCearbhaill, had a dream that the Benedictines [who were the original owners of the site] were plotting against him. He drove the Benedictines from Cashel, and invited the Cistercians to take their place.

The last Abbot of Hore Abbey was Patrick Stackpole, he had held the position for several decades, but peacefully surrendered the Abbey to the Crown Forces during the Dissolution of the Monasteries in circa 1540. The lands were granted to the powerful Butler Family, and were eventually transferred again by Queen Elizabeth Ist to Sir Henry Radcliffe, Earl of Sussex.

If you are visiting the wonderful Rock of Cashel, do allow an extra little bit of time to view the wonderful remains of Hore Abbey, as an extra incentive you also get a great view of the Rock from there!

If anyone would like to learn more about the history and legends of the Rock of Cashel and Hore Abbey you can download our audioguide from