Muckross Abbey was built in the 1400s by the Franciscan monks. Not soon after, Henry VIII dissolved the monastery, they started up again after his death but the monastery fell into complete ruin when Cromwell came through in the 1640s.
A 12 mile, thankfully flat, cycle brought me to the Rock of Cashel, seat of the ancient irish kings. Once a castle site, it became purely religious in the 11th century and now is made up of St Patrick's cathedral and Cormac's chapel.
Inside is the oldest intact stone stairway in all of Ireland.
The most notable thing about the chapel is the remnants of frescoes that used vermilion from Spain for the red colors and very expensive lapis lazuli (blue) from Afghanistan to depict biblical scenes.
There was also a sarcophagus predating the chapel that had Nordic dragons, figure eights, and what looked like mermaids all over it. Important bodies were put in there, covered in lime, and they decomposed in about 5 weeks. The bones were taken out, put someplace special, and someone else important got to take their turn.
The chapel has only been open for a few years and to limit the humidity and bacteria inside, only a few people get to go in each day. I got lucky because it was pouring rain and not many people were motivated to be outside.
Tomorrow, I'll take advantage of any break in the rain to cycle for an hour back to Thurles, squeeze my bike into a train, and make it through to Dublin.