Cormac's Chapel, Rock of Cashel, Caiseal, Éire
The most intact building atop the Carraig Phádraig, or Rock of Cashel, also known as St. Patrick’s Rock, is Cormac’s Chapel. Constructed between 1127 and 1135AD, the chapel was originally the main church on the rock, before the construction of the larger Cathedral in the 13th Century. It was built in the Romanesque style that was popular at the time in Continental Europe, and was built of a tan sandstone, two unique characteristics that set it apart from most historic structures in Ireland, as well as the other buildings on the rock. The chapel is a sophisticated building, with vaulted ceilings, elaborate carved and painted decorations, and wide arches, with a lot of aid in the construction of the church coming from the Irish-born Abbot Dirmicius of Regensburg in modern-day Germany, whom sent several skilled craftspeople to work on the building. The building features carvings and a level of detail in a style that is largely unseen in the rest of Ireland, with the two towers on either side of the chancel showing strong German influence. The doorways on either side of the chapel have elaborate carved tympanums, with the doorway that currently opens to the outside of the building having three arches, with the original main doorway on the other side, which now leads into a courtyard blocked off by the cathedral built a century later, having five arches. The building, however, was not well-suited for the damp Irish climate, and suffered massive water intrusion over the centuries, damaging the interior and artistic features of the building. Restoration and conservation work to keep the structure from deteriorating further was carried out in the last decade, completed this past summer, which involved waterproofing the structure’s exterior envelope, installing dehumidifiers in the building to keep humidity levels consistent, limiting the amount of tourists in the building, and construction air-tight doorways. The chapel is a remarkable work of craftsmanship and is one of the most spectacular buildings in Ireland, and has, thankfully, been preserved for the enjoyment of future generations.