The Rock of Cashel - the thinnest place in Ireland

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


  1. Holly Helmstetter7:29 PM

    Kings, chieftans, warriors, princes, bards, and holy men" It seems odd to me that, since this place harks back to the Old Religion, in which women were extremely powerful, this list of the people whose memory clings to it, completely excludes the female. Yes, Cashel itself is referred to as "she," but then the discussion of her here, is of a place, a THING, over which men fought, as if Cashel were passive and some man or men triumphed by owning or holding it. It's sad to see the vibrant feminine aspect of the Old Religion utterly dismissed in this piece.

    1. So sorry, Holly. I guess we need readers to point out perspectives we miss. Very strong observations. I appreciate your willingness to comment and will take your comment to heart, and try to keep in mind the feminine aspects in future writing. Thanks for stopping by.

    2. I wonder if this place was a feminine place which was 'taken over' by the power of men? These @mother places' were always the first to come under the dominion of the out of power men who came later and took ownership! It has happened in so many of the ancient places in the British isles as well as in Ireland.
      Its interesting too as I never felt drawn to visit Cashel because it felt so masculine, but its male energy was not the balanced male energy which would have complemented the female energy in the old days! But a controlling, dominant energy which completely denied the female energy which might once have existed there. Perhaps this is what you have tuned into Mindie, without realising it?

    3. I guess I never delved that deeply into the gender of the energy. It's interesting to think about. I know many men and women who are drawn to Cashel and drawn again and again, but I've ever discussed the gender or gender dominance of the place with them. Interesting things to ponder.

  2. Anonymous12:51 PM

    Thank you, Mindie. Your description makes me feel as though I have been at this holy ground. You felt what you felt. You feel connected with ancient souls who felt the same way ~ feeling that we are all joined inside and outside of time. You felt what you felt ~ and you did not label it. Connection and oneness across time is neither masculine nor feminine. It is deep soul love. Please do not allow the thoughts of those who have a shallow need to separate us by labeling enter your feelings of oneness ~ nor into your writings.
    You felt unity and want to share it. "Man-made or woman-made" labels would invalidate your purpose.
    Elliott Mellichamp

    1. Thank you, Elliott, and I'm glad you appreciated the post. I welcome Ann and Holly's - and everyone's opinion. The more critical the opinion, the more I'm challenged to grow. I'm happy to re-examine the gender thing, but you write an important truth in your comment.

      "You felt what you felt - and did not label it." <-- very deep insight.

      Many writers tell us what we should feel at these mystical places. They figure it all out and then explain what's there and where it's coming from and give it a name. I feel it's important to share in broad terms - my own feelings. And if they help the reader reach inside herself or himself and find a truth or meaning, then I've made a worthy contribution. If the reader's truth in not in sync with mine, it gives us all something to think about.

      We are all thinkers, and feelers. We are all unique yet joined by the same energy force that created the universe. Each truth has a common thread... and we spend our lives following the threads to learn and grow. Every truth has its place.

      I'm so glad what I shared meant something to you, Elliott. And what you wrote taught me something about what I need to highlight in what I'm writing today.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.


  3. Anonymous7:43 AM

    While I appreciate the article, you don't even mention where the Rock is. That's probably why no one ever follows your advice... Just a thought.

    1. Thank you for stopping by, Anonymous. I'm curious to know what you base you're assumptions on. Only a coward lodges public criticism anonymously. But point taken.

  4. I appreciate the article very much, and the comments by Holly, Ann and Eliot as well. I am visiting The Rock of Cashel very soon, and am so excited. I can say that I also felt all the male descriptions of power holders was a turnoff for me, but knowing the awful history of many of these magical places it didn't surprise me. I have read that there is a Sheela-Na-Gig there on the wall along a staircase I believe. I am going there to feel what you felt Mindie, perhaps in my own way, but I have a feeling it will also affect me like it did you, and call me back again and again. Thanks for all of your information, perspective and photos!

    1. Oh Maggie. I'm so happy for you. I think the Sheela is inside the building near where they keep the original St. Patrick's High Cross. Cashel is a powerful place. I guess each of us experiences that power in the way we're meant to. I have no doubt that you will too. I hope you'll let us know about your visit, post some pics, tell us how it went.