Every time I visit Ireland - no matter where I'm scheduled to be - I visit the Rock of Cashel. For me it is the quintessential thin place, always drawing me, calling me, awakening me.
The Pre-Christian and Celtic people of Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England had a keen sense for thin places. The landscape in these countries is littered with man-made markings and ruins that remind the passer-by that this is holy ground. The rocks, trees and landscape seem to contain the memories of spiritual exercises here long ago and present.
Cashel is a thin place.
The very ground itself seems to call out, "Come here and be transformed." In a quiet moment, the pilgrim today can sense a connection with the souls that have marked these spots with their spirits. Cashel is a vivid reminder that we are all joined inside and outside of time.I will never forget the first time I saw the Rock of Cashel.
At 10:00 a.m. we came down the Tipperary Road into Cashel. Seeing the Rock emerge from the landscape stirred childhood memories of seeing Emerald City rise up at the end of the yellow brick road in the Wizard of Oz. It was a moment when time stood still, burned in my memory like a trauma or birth.
That day we climbed the Rock of Cashel and wandered through the Cathedral ruins and cemetery. I knew nothing then about the history, who lived there, who ruled from there, what events took place there, but I knew it was a thin place. There was something exhilarating about Cashel, an excitement, a sense of power.
Cashel has long been linked with power. Warriors, chieftains, kings, princes, saints and bishops have all come here to mark the Rock as the seat of power, and blood has been spilled in that struggle for power. The Rock is not a peaceful place - as its legacy is riddled with memories of those who founght for power, stole power, ran to take refuge under the mantle of the powerful, and those who gloriously won the power.
The thinness is palpable. Your spirit is awake at Cashel.
I have returned to the Rock of Cashel with every visit to Ireland. I have seen the Rock lit up at night, covered in rain and mist, set against the frigid winter landscape and lingering through the long days of summer where the sun barely sets before rising again.
The Rock of Cashel, though in ruin, has a constancy; a historic brilliance that defies the modernization that grows around it with new homes, buildings and roadways. Cashel boldly claims her history, memories of kings, chieftains, warriors, bards, and holy men - thrusting them before us, urging us to enter in to her ancient legacy - and to return, and return and return.
So many people ask me, "What should I see on my visit to Ireland?"I always say, "Don't miss the Rock of Cashel." Sadly, only a few follow my advice.
What a pity.
They'll never know what I know... that Cashel will seduce you like a lover and cling to your spirit, planting some small charm that draws you back to her, creating a hunger for reunion. With each visit your are strengthened and sustained ... until the next time. Cashel is like a first love. Though time, distance and life experience may stand between you - you never forget her, and you will return to her over and over in your imagination. You are changed forever for having known her.
For the complete article on The Rock of Cashel, by Mindie Burgoyne, please visit http://writingthevision.com/rockofcashel.htm